ST. LOUIS —
Wainwright was helped by three double plays — two when Pirates runners strayed too far on line drives. The right-hander struck out six and walked one in a 107-pitch complete game.
Sidelined with an arm injury when the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, Wainwright threw seven innings of three-hit ball to beat Pittsburgh 9-1 in the series opener.
He is 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and four saves in 15 career postseason games, including six starts. He even helped the Cardinals to a championship as a rookie closer in 2006.
But still, Game 5 last season against the Nationals was fresh in his mind.
"I wanted it bad. It's probably the most nervous I've ever been," Wainwright said. "I don't get a whole lot of nerves when I pitch. Before I pitched today, I was pretty nervous."
The Pirates scratched out their lone run on two infield hits and the single by Alvarez that looked to be a harmless inning-ending groundout before it hit the bag.
At 23 years, 31 days, Cole was the youngest NL pitcher to start Game 5 of a division series and the fifth-youngest NL pitcher to start a winner-take-all postseason game, according to STATS.
Counting the postseason, Cole didn't allow a homer in six straight starts. That ended when Freese connected for a 2-0 lead in the second.
Walker drew a one-out walk in the first from Wainwright, who issued just 35 free passes during the regular season and none in Game 1. Walker went no further.
After a leadoff single by Marlon Byrd in the second, Matt Carpenter was perfectly positioned at second base to snare Alvarez's liner and flip to first for a double play.
NOTES: Marte robbed Carpenter of a hit with a diving catch near the left-field line in the third. ... It was the 24th meeting between the teams this season, with each winning 12 times.