Cardinals force Game 5 against Pirates behind gem from Michael Wacha

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With their backs against the wall, the Cardinals turned to rookie right-hander Michael Wacha this afternoon to keep their season alive. And he delivered in his first career postseason start.

Wacha took a no-hitter in the eighth inning as the Cardinals defeated the Pirates 2-1 to force a Game 5 in the NLDS. The 22-year-old was sensational, striking out nine while walking a pair and had a perfect game through five innings. He didn’t give up his first hit until Pedro Alvarez hit a long solo homer with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal followed to get the final five outs of the ballgame.

The only offense of the day for the Cardinals was a two-run homer by Matt Holliday off Charlie Morton in the top of the sixth inning. But it was enough to put St. Louis in position for the victory.

The series is now tied 2-2 and will head back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 5 on Wednesday. Adam Wainwright will be on the hill for St. Louis while Pittsburgh will go with rookie right-hander Gerrit Cole.

Martin Prado exits game with left hamstring injury

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Marlins third baseman Martin Prado was forced to make an early departure from Friday’s game after sustaining a left hamstring injury in the sixth inning. Prado sprinted down the first base line to beat out a grounder, but came up limping and had to be helped off of the field and down the steps of the dugout. His recovery timetable has yet to be determined, though he’s considered day-to-day for the time being.

Prior to the incident, Prado went 3-for-4 with two doubles against the Nationals’ Max Scherzer — his first game with multiple extra-base hits since July 2017. It was a rare lucky break for the infielder, who entered Friday’s game with a .169/.221/.180 batting line, one double and three RBI in 95 plate appearances in 2018. The injury appears to be an aggravation of the left hamstring strain he sustained in March, which forced the club to bench him for just over a month this spring.

Prado was replaced on the field by Brian Anderson, who shifted over from right field so the team could bring in pinch-hitter/corner outfielder J.B. Shuck. The Marlins currently trail the Nationals 7-5 in the top of the eighth inning.