One win in Pittsburgh is all Cardinals need to claim NL Central crown

Another injury didn't prevent the St. Louis Cardinals from inching closer to another NL Central title.

Some ugly weather might have done nothing more than push the celebration back a day.

After grinding out a victory in their opener with the Pittsburgh Pirates and having the middle game postponed, the Cardinals will get two chances to clinch their third consecutive division crown and first 100-win season since 2005 in a day-night doubleheader Wednesday at PNC Park.

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St. Louis (99-58) reduced its magic number to two with Monday's 3-0 win over the second-place Pirates, scoring all its runs in the ninth inning and overcoming 10 walks by its pitchers and a frightening injury to Stephen Piscotty. The rookie was carted off and spent the night at a hospital after a violent outfield collision with Peter Bourjos in the seventh.

"I don't know if there is a game that would define it more than this one all season," manager Mike Matheny said. "We had our backs against the wall every single inning."

Piscotty was released from the hospital early Tuesday, and general manager John Mozeliak delivered an even more encouraging statement later in the day.

"I think the good news is he probably will play again in the regular season," Mozeliak said.

He'll have to wait until at least Wednesday to watch his team celebrate a Central crown. Rain washed out Tuesday's contest, leaving the Cardinals with two chances in a matters of hours to wrap up the division before heading out of town.

Charlie Morton (9-8, 4.54 ERA) was originally supposed to pitch Tuesday against Michael Wacha (17-6, 3.15), and while Wacha remains the Cardinals starter for the matinee, he'll oppose someone else. Pirates ace Gerrit Cole (18-8, 2.60) gets the ball first in what will be his final outing before he almost certainly starts the wild-card game.

Cole is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in his last four starts, a stretch that began with seven innings of two-hit ball in a 7-1 win at St. Louis on Sept. 6.

"I know he has a competitive chip that's special," manager Clint Hurdle told MLB's official website. "Most players have one, but (with him) you combine that with a very elite skill set and a desire to be the guy. He's shown that ability in September. It's one of the reasons that when you set up your rotation, you try to map him out for these type games, and he's answered very well."

Wacha hasn't been in top form of late, posting a 6.75 ERA while splitting his last four starts. He's walked 14 and surrendered five homers in 20 innings during the stretch.

He's rarely been anything but on against the Pirates (95-62), though. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven games - six starts - in the series, including the 2013 postseason.

Andrew McCutchen is 5 for 9 with a homer off Wacha this season but is hitting .160 over his last eight games.

Piscotty's improved condition wasn't the only good news the Cardinals got after the announcement of Tuesday's rainout. Mozeliak said ace Adam Wainwright would be activated Wednesday and be immediately available out of the bullpen just over five months after he tore his left Achilles tendon.

Hoping to have Cole keep their division hopes alive in the afternoon, the Pirates -- with a healthy lead over the Cubs for home-field advantage in the wild-card game -- should be less confident handing it to Morton in the nightcap.

Morton is 0-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 12 meetings with the Cardinals since a road win April 4, 2011. He has pitched well in the last two this season, holding St. Louis to five hits and one earned run over 13 innings.

The right-hander has surrendered 12 runs over 8 1/3 innings in his last two outings this month, however.

Mark Reynolds, who homered off Mark Melancon for the final two runs Monday, is 4 for 9 against Morton. Jon Jay, whose single in the ninth scored the initial run on Gregory Polanco's error, is 9 for 22.

Opposing Morton will be Tyler Lyons (2-1, 3.96) in his eighth start of the season and first in four weeks. The left-hander has a 4.93 ERA in his starts and has allowed eight homers in 34 2/3 innings, three of which came Sept. 2 against Washington.

Lyons is 0-2 with a 4.76 ERA in three career starts against Pittsburgh.