ST. LOUIS — Facing elimination for the second consecutive game in the National League Division Series, the St. Louis Cardinals hope for better luck in their second go-around against Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole.
Cole (10-7, 3.22 ERA in the regular season) threw six strong innings in Game 2 on Friday at Busch Stadium when the Pirates won 7-1. A similar performance in the deciding Game 5 of the series at 7:07 p.m. Wednesday could send the Cardinals home for the winter.
But first baseman Matt Adams anticipates the Cardinals will fare better in the rematch against Cole, a 2011 first-round draft pick.
"We'll just go out and see what he has working," Adams said Tuesday after a light workout at the stadium. "He had all three pitches (fastball, slider, changeup) working in Game 2. We've just got to go out there and try to put some good ABs against him.
"(Seeing him again) is going to help big-time because we're going to know how the ball's coming out of his hand. We're going to see what his tendencies are and go from there. I don't think we were uncomfortable the first time; he just had great stuff."
Cole will be opposed by Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA), who pitched a gem in a 9-1 victory in Game 1 on Thursday. A victory would send the Cardinals into the best-of-seven NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wainwright allowed six runs (earned) on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings in Game 5 of the NLDS last year in Washington, but the Cardinals rallied for a memorable 9-7 victory by scoring six runs over the last three innings, including four in the ninth.
"The fact of the matter is last year, I pitched a good Game 1, a terrible Game 5 and a good Game 4 of the NLCS, but there's no guarantee my stuff would have returned in the World Series had we even got there," Wainwright said. "That's just the truth of the matter. My stuff was hit or miss all year long.
"This year, I have all the confidence in the world in my stuff. I know I'll be prepared. I'll be confident going into the game. It's just a completely different situation."
Wainwright has made 14 playoff appearances, including five starts, and is 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA and four saves. Wainwright talked Tuesday about the time he spent in the bullpen as a rookie 2006 when he was the Cardinals' closer.
"The bullpen in 2006 taught me so much," he said. "I definitely would not be where I am today without that bullpen experience. There's a lot of valuable lessons learned about the urgency of each pitch --going out there and getting a guy out one time like it's going to be the last time you ever face him.
"That's the mentality I took into starting. Before, as a starter, I had the mentality of, 'I'm going to go through the lineup without showing all my pitches.' I was just trying to get by until I got to the end, where I could start springing stuff on guys."
Wainwright no longer utilizes that approach.
"For me to be successful, I have to give it everything I've got, every pitch, until they take the ball from me. And hopefully, they won't take the ball from me," he said. "That's the mentality that works for me."
The Cardinals have outscored the Pirates 15-14 in the series, providing an extension of the regular season when Pittsburgh won 10 of the 19 meetings despite being outscored 87-85.
Neither team has hit much in the series. The Cardinals are batting .192, slightly better than the Pirates' .189. One of the Cardinals' best hitters, second baseman Matt Carpenter, is 1-for-15.
"He's working some deeper counts and it looks like he's seeing the ball better," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "What he's guilty of is carrying too much and feeling like he's got to do something extra-special. That's a trap that many young players can fall into, and he still is a young player even though he's been such an incredible story this year, a catalyst for our offense.
"But it doesn't all rest on his shoulders. He's getting back to that point, just realizing he needs to do what he's done all season long, which is plenty good enough. We just need Matt to be Matt."
The Pirates are getting a huge series from third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who is batting .385 (5-for-13) with three homers and five RBIs. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is batting .357 (5-for-14).
Matheny said the newfound rivalry with the Pirates, long an NL Central doormat, is based on "mutual respect."
"We respect the talent they have and the way they go about the game and how they fight to the end," Matheny said. "It's the kind of baseball we want to play. That being said, it comes down to going out and competing, regardless of who we're playing against."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.