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.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.