Michael Wacha carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning Monday, then the St. Louis Cardinals hung on for 2 -1 win over Pittsburgh to live another day in the NL Division Series.
Matt Holliday hit a two-run homer in the sixth to account for the Cardinals' margin of victory in the NLDS' Game 4, squaring the best-of-five series 2-2.
The Cardinals are 7-1 while facing elimination in the playoffs the last two seasons. They'll put that mark on the line in the deciding game of the NLDS Wednesday in St. Louis.
"I wouldn't say it was a great feeling," Wacha said of losing the no-hitter. "I was just trying to go out there and throw up zeros. That's my job, is to go out there and try to win ballgames and keep our team in the game.
"No, I didn't like giving up the home run. That's a little too close for comfort for me. But Carlos (Martinez) came in, and Trevor [Rosenthal] came in and shut the door. It was a lot of fun watching them."
Game 5 is set for 7:07 p.m. Wednesday at Busch Stadium.
In a taut Game 4 in Pittsburgh, Wacha gave up Pedro Alvarez' one-out homer in the eighth, cutting the Cards' lead to 2-1.
Rosenthal pitched around a two-out walk in the ninth, retiring Andrew McCutchen on a popup to second base to end the game. Rosenthal walked Neil Walker on four pitches to bring up McCutchen -- the likely NL MVP -- and then ran the count to 3-0.
McCutchen took a strike and then took a home-run swing on another pitch in the strike zone. But he got under the ball and lifted it to Matt Carpenter retreating behind second base.
Holliday's homer off Pirates starter Charlie Morton came after a leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran. The homer was Holliday's first of the postseason, and his first RBIs as well.
Wacha retired 22 of the first 23 Pirates hitters -- he walked Russell Martin leading off the sixth to end his perfect game bid -- before running the count to 3-1 on Alvarez. He parked the next pitch into the right-field bleachers, making it a one-run game.
Prior to Alvarez' homer, and going back to his last start of the regular season -- a one-hit win over Washington the last week of September -- Wacha had allowed an infield single and a walk by the last 50 batters to face him.
"I just kind of took the confidence from the last start into this one," Wacha said in a postgame press conference. "And then whenever I went back and looked at the film, I was able to see some of the positives from the game, and one of them was just getting ahead of the hitters and being able to make my pitch, instead of making their pitch.
"I kind of took that into this one and just tried to get that first pitch over for a strike and start in a pitcher's count."
Wacha struck out nine and walked two before he departed following a walk to Martin following Alvarez' homer.
"We did a lot of gushing about him before we even got him out there today, and I think everybody sees why," Cardinals Mike Matheny said. "I don't know if you can put a kid in a tougher spot. He came out and just made pitches all day long.
"He's just got a knack of getting up there and, very business-like, getting the job done." Morton, lifted after a two-out walk to Jon Jay following Holliday's homer, gave up the two runs on three hits, walking four and striking out three.
The Cardinals have scored only six runs in their last 29 innings of the series, after winning Game 1 9-1, they lost 7-1 and 5-3 before the one-run game Monday.
The two teams have played 23 times this year, and it could hardly be closer: St. Louis has won 11 times, the Pirates 12. ... Molina threw out Pirate pinch-runner Josh Harrison trying to get to second (and scoring position) with Martinez on the mound in the eighth. Martinez then fanned Garrett Jones to end the inning ... The Cards homered in both games at PNC Park this week, after failing to homer there during the regular season.