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MLB Notebook: Wainwright completes the job

Ace punches Cards' ticket to NLCS by going distance in Game 5 vs. Pirates

The 27 authors of complete-game victories in winner-take-all postseason contests have connections to 13 total franchises. Seven clubs have exactly one such claimant, while the Braves and Pirates have two, the Tigers and Yankees own three, and the Dodgers have a direct link to four.

And then there are the Cardinals, who have made a greater imprint on this list than any other franchise.

Wainwright goes the distance
In the 25th winner-take-all game in Division Series history, St. Louis -- behind Adam Wainwright's complete game -- defeated Pittsburgh, 6-1, on Wednesday. With the victory, the Cardinals advance to meet the Dodgers in a rematch of the 1985 National League Championship Series.

Wainwright allowed eight hits and an earned run, striking out six with one walk in his 107-pitch effort. It was the 12th time a Cardinals starter picked up a victory in a winner-take-all affair, and the sixth time a St. Louis hurler went the distance in such an effort. The first five: Dizzy Dean (1934 World Series, Game 7), Bob Gibson ('64 World Series, Game 7 and '67 World Series, Game 7), Danny Cox ('87 NLCS, Game 7) and Chris Carpenter (2011 NLDS, Game 5).

Wainwright was the 27th pitcher to have a complete-game victory in a winner-take-all postseason contest. Arranging all 27 by date, the past six have all come in a Division Series. Overall, Wainwright is the eighth pitcher to have a complete-game victory in a win-or-go-home Division Series game.

• 1981: Jerry Reuss tosses a five-hitter as the Dodgers beat the Astros, 4-0.
• 1981: Steve Rogers throws a six-hitter as the Expos defeat the Phillies, 3-0.
• 2001: Curt Schilling hurls a six-hitter as the D-backs defeat the Cardinals, 2-1.
• 2010: Cliff Lee pitches a six-hitter as the Rangers defeat the Rays, 5-1.
• 2011: Carpenter tosses a three-hitter as the Cardinals defeat the Phillies, 1-0.
• 2012: Justin Verlander throws a four-hitter as the Tigers defeat the Athletics, 6-0.
• 2012: CC Sabathia completes a four-hitter as the Yankees defeat the Orioles, 3-1.
• 2013: Wainwright scatters eight hits as the Cardinals defeat the Pirates, 6-1.

Wainwright also picked up a win in Game 1 of this series after giving up one run in seven innings. With his two efforts, Wainwright is one of five pitchers in a single Division Series to have two victories in games during which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed no more than one run. Rogers did this for the Expos in 1981, and then Schilling managed the feat for the D-backs in 2001. Lee did it with the Rangers in '10, and Justin Verlander accomplished it for the Tigers last year.

Dating back to his final postseason effort in 2012 (Game 4 of the NLCS), Wainwright has pitched at least seven innings and surrendered no more than one run in each of his past three playoff starts. He is the second Cardinals pitcher to have a streak of three postseason games like this, following Harry Brecheen. The southpaw allowed one run in a complete game in Game 4 of the 1944 World Series and then threw a shutout in Game 2 of the '46 World Series, and he completed the trifecta with a complete-game, one-run effort in Game 6 of that Fall Classic.

Freese heats up in October
David Freese's two-run homer in the second inning opened the scoring, and it marked Freese's only hit of the night.

With the shot, Freese has five RBIs in six winner-take-all games. The Yankees' Moose Skowron had the most, with nine. Skowron played in six winner-take-all contests (all World Series Game 7s), and in those games he was 7-for-25 with a double and three home runs. The Yankees were 3-3 in those games.

Freese has now played in 36 postseason games, and he has 21 extra-base hits and 29 RBIs in his playoff career. Among all players through their first 36 postseason contests:

• His 21 extra-base hits are tied for fourth most. The men ahead of him are Carlos Beltran (26), Nelson Cruz (23), and George Brett (22), while Lou Gehrig and Jayson Werth also had 21

• His 29 RBIs tie him with Albert Pujols for the fifth most. Those ahead of him: Gehrig (35), Lance Berkman (33), David Ortiz (31) and Jim Edmonds (30).

Alvarez produces for Pirates
With a single in the seventh, Pedro Alvarez drove in the Pirates' only run of the game.

Alvarez finished his first go-round in the postseason with seven RBIs. Those seven through his first six postseason games tied him with Tommy Leach for the most for a Pirates player.

With the RBI on Wednesday, Alvarez was the first player to begin his postseason career with at least one RBI in each of his first six games. Nomar Garciaparra began with at least one in his first five.

Here and there
• The Cardinals improved to 15-6 in winner-take-all postseason games. In NLDS Games 5s, the team is now 3-1, with a loss in 2001 and then wins in '11, '12 and '13. When the Cardinals have hosted a winner-take-all affair (in any series), they've gone 8-1. The other seven wins, besides Wednesday's: 1931 World Series (over the A's), '46 World Series (Red Sox), '64 World Series (Yankees), '82 World Series (Brewers), '87 NLCS (Giants), 2004 NLCS (Astros) and '11 World Series (Rangers). The lone loss came while hosting the Tigers in the 1968 Fall Classic.

Marlon Byrd went 3-for-4 for the Pirates, completing his first taste of the postseason with eight hits in 22 at-bats. The most hits for any Bucs player through his first six postseason games is nine, a total shared by Leach, Richie Hebner and Dave Cash. Byrd is tied with Ginger Beaumont, Pie Traynor, Roberto Clemente, Bob Robertson and Richie Zisk.

Gerrit Cole -- at 23 years and 31 days old -- became the 11th-youngest pitcher to start a winner-take-all postseason game, and the youngest since Jaret Wright was 21 year and 301 days old in his start in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. Fernando Valenzuela, at 20 years and 352 days old for his start in Game 5 of the '81 NLCS, was the youngest starter in a postseason winner-take-all-game.

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions.
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Adam Wainwright, Marlon Byrd, Pedro Alvarez, David Freese