By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS - Matt Adams hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 2-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night in the opener of a four-game series with the NL Central rival they topped in the division series last fall.
Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker (18) tumbles over St. Louis’s Matt Carpenter (13) after tagging him out and throwing to first for a double play in the sixth inning.
Matt Carpenter walked to lead off the ninth and Matt Holliday flied out. Adams then hit his 10th homer on an 0-1 pitch from Justin Wilson (2-1) for his first career game-winning homer. It was the Cardinals' first game-winning homer since Skip Schumaker connected against the Kansas City Royals on June 19, 2011.
Charlie Morton allowed one hit in seven innings for Pittsburgh, which stranded 12 runners. Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' 11-game winner, scattered seven hits in seven scoreless innings.
Pat Neshek (3-0) worked a perfect ninth against the top of the order for St. Louis.
The game lasted 2 hours and 37 minutes but was extended by two rain delays totaling 58 minutes.
Morton remained 2-10 for his career against the Cardinals although he reduced his ERA to 5.58. He was lifted in the eighth when the Pirates loaded the bases with two outs. Sam Freeman struck out rookie pinch-hitter Gregory Polanco.
The Cardinals squandered a chance in the eighth when Jon Jay was doubled off second after pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras lined out to right.
The Pirates had runners in scoring position five times against Wainwright, who has thrown 14 2-3 scoreless innings his last two outings. He was particularly tough on fellow Al-Star Andrew McCutchen, who tapped out to end the fifth to waste Starling Marte's triple and flied out with two on to end the seventh.
Right fielder Josh Harrison, chosen by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny as an All-Star reserve on Sunday, made an outstanding diving catch to rob Jhonny Peralta of a hit in the second.
Rain - or the threat of it - was a dominant factor early with the grounds crew ever on alert. The start was delayed 47 minutes with the tarp down in anticipation of a storm and ominous clouds looming but no precipitation,
It was halted 11 minutes by heavy rain after the Pirates stranded two in the first. Some Pittsburgh players began running off the field when a second brief storm hit just before the game resumed and crew chief Joe West appeared ready to call another halt before dropping his arms and retreating to first base.
Plate umpire Alan Porter made a rarely seen call in the first after Russell Martin was plunked in the arm, ruling that Martin hadn't made an attempt to get out of the way. Instead of loading the bases with two outs, the pitch was simply ball three for a full count and Martin flied out.