Carlos Beltran’s three-run homer sparked a seven-run third inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals got seven stingy innings from Adam Wainwright, delivering a reality jolt to the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 9-1 rout Thursday in their NL division series opener.
The first eight Cardinals reached safely in the third to chase A.J. Burnett, saddling the right-hander with the second-shortest outing of his career and putting Game 1 out of reach early. A sellout crowd roared early and then settled in for an easy victory.
Lance Lynn (15-10) faces Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole (10-7) in Game 2 Friday.
The Pirates ended a 21-year postseason drought and entered their first best-of-five division series with apparent momentum after beating Cincinnati in the wild-card game Tuesday. They never threatened to rally against the Cardinals’ ace, and finished with only four hits.
Pittsburgh also was sloppy in the field, committing three errors. St. Louis was sharp on defense, with reliever Carlos Martinez turning in the top play by slinging an off-balance throw to first to nip Russell Martin.
“What a play!” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny mouthed in the dugout.
Wainwright remained unbeaten in the postseason, going to 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in 14 games, five of them starts.
Wainwright allowed a run and three hits in seven innings, striking out nine without a walk. The only damage came on a homer by Pedro Alvarez to start the fifth.
Beltran, who has never reached the World Series, reprised his role as one of the game’s greatest playoff sluggers. His 443-foot drive put St. Louis ahead, and was the second-longest shot by a left-handed batter at 8-year-old Busch Stadium.
Beltran has 15 home runs, 10 doubles and 28 RBIs in 35 postseason games. He also has scored 40 runs and stolen 11 bases.
Dodgers 6, Braves 1: Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 during seven dominant innings, and Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in Game 1 in Atlanta.
The Dodgers jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the fourth against Kris Medlen, taking advantage of some shoddy Atlanta defense.
Kershaw limited Atlanta to Chris Johnson’s run-scoring single with two outs in the fourth. The Dodgers’ ace allowed three hits and finished in style, striking out the side in the seventh to match his season high for Ks. Medlen gave up nine hits and five runs in four-plus innings.