ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran hit a three-run homer to ignite a seven-run outburst in the third inning, sending the St. Louis Cardinals on their way to a 9-1 win over Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
The Cardinals saw eight straight batters reach base in the third, with seven of them finding their way around the bases.
"We've had some big innings this season, most teams have," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said as St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. "But it seems like we've had some of those that just kind of keep going. Nobody wants to make the last out."
The big rally was far more than enough run support for St. Louis starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. He struck out nine and didn't issue a walk. He threw 105 pitches, 71 of them strikes.
Game 2 of the series is set for 12:07 p.m. Friday.
Beltran's homer in the third followed a leadoff walk to Wainwright and a single by Matt Carpenter off Pittsburgh starter A.J. Burnett. The homer, on a 2-1 count, was measured at 443 feet.
Burnett then gave up a double by Matt Holliday, hit Matt Adams, walked Yadier Molina and Jon Jay -- bringing in the fourth run -- before David Freese's two-run single inside the bag at first base.
Right fielder Marlon Byrd's throw to the plate hit Freese as he returned to first, allowing Jay to scoot home with the seventh run. Byrd was charged with an error on the play, and Burnett's afternoon was over.
The RBIs were Freese's 19th and 20th in postseason play since 2011.
"He physically feels good, and we knew his swing was in a good spot, too," said Matheny, who rested Freese at several points in late September with the playoffs on the horizon. "We didn't really want him to change anything, and he came out today and proved (it) once again: He's the kind of guy that loves these situations and somehow figures out a way to get it done."
Wainwright started the rally when he worked a walk from Burnett after falling behind 1-2 to lead off the inning.
Wainwright recorded 12 outs by the infielders -- 11 of them on groundball outs and a line drive to third -- and only allowed three balls hit into the outfield.
He worked around a pair of two-out singles by Andrew McCutchen and Justin Morneau in the fourth, then allowed Pedro Alvarez' leadoff homer in the top of the fifth.
The Cards matched that tally with an unearned run in their fifth. Jay walked, went to second on Freese's second hit, and scored when Daniel Descalso hit into a forceout at second, only to have Pittsburgh shortstop Clint Barmes throw the ball past first for an error.
The Cardinals added another unearned run in the seventh; with two out, Adams walked and scored from first when McCutchen missed connections on Molina's double into the right-field gap, allowing the ball to roll behind him.
Carlos Martinez pitched a 1-2-3 eighth after Wainwright departed, and Trevor Rosenthal gave up a two-out single in the ninth before notching the game's final out.
The Cardinals won 10 of 19 games against Pittsburgh in the regular season. ... Longtime Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon threw out the ceremonial first pitch, a fastball inside to Cardinals reserve Shane Robinson. ... In Game 2, Cards right-hander Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97 ERA in the regular season) will be opposed by Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA in 19 starts).