Wednesday’s Game Report: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3

Wednesday’s Game Report: Pirates 5, Cardinals 3

By Rob Rains

With the preliminaries out of the way, the Cardinals can now officially turn their attention to the postseason.

A loss to the Pirates on Wednesday in Pittsburgh brought the regular season to a close with a 93-69 record, good enough to win the NL Central and move into the wild-card round, where the Cardinals will host the Phillies in the best-of-three series beginning Friday, with all of the games at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals used only one pitcher, Jordan Hicks, who is expected to be on the postseason roster. Coming back from the injured list, he worked one scoreless inning, pitching around a leadoff double and another hit.

Tommy Edman, who had sat out the previous three games, and Nolan Arenado, who had missed two in a row, both returned to the lineup with Edman getting three hits and Arenado adding an RBI single in two at-bats.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Edman’s single in the first inning drove in leadoff hitter Lars Nootbaar, who opened the game with a double. Edman then stole second and scored on an error. Edman also double and scored in the third on Arenado’s single, which was his 103rd RBI on the season … The Cardinals advanced only one runner to second base after Edman’s double … Yadier Molina had the final at-bat of his regular-season career, lining out to second as a pinch-hitter in the seventh … Albert Pujols did not play.

On the mound: The Cardinals called up Matthew Liberatore from Memphis to start the final game. He had already been in Pittsburgh as part of the taxi squad. After working two scoreless innings, he gave up one run in the third and four in the fourth. Over his five innings Liberatore struck out three and walked four … After Hicks pitched the sixth, Jake Woodford worked the final two innings.

Worth noting: The game times were announced for this weekend’s series against the Phillies. Game one on Friday will begin at 1:07 p.m., game two on Saturday is set for a 7:37 p.m. first pitch. If Sunday’s game is necessary, it is scheduled to also begin at 7:37 p.m. but could be moved up to either 6:07 p.m. or 6:37 p.m. depending on the status of the other three series. Friday’s games will be televised by ABC, with Saturday and Sunday’s game set for ESPN2 … To make room on the roster for Hicks and Liberatore, pitchers Dakota Hudson and JoJo Romero were optioned to Memphis. The moves make them ineligible to return for either the wild-card round or the Division Series.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals will work out at Busch on Thursday in advance of the wild-card series. The Cardinals are expected to make an announcement on Thursday about their starting rotation and playoff roster.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.