"We were able to take a huge step forward this year in restoring the pride and the passion of the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization," manager Clint Hurdle said, "and rebonding our city with a ball team."
Despite their charming turnaround and a victory over Cincinnati in the NL wild-card game, the Pirates haven't won a postseason series since the 1979 World Series.
Wainwright was helped by three double plays -- two when Pirates runners strayed too far on line drives. The right-hander struck out six and walked one in a 107-pitch complete game.
"Every time we turned around, Wainwright got in the way tonight," Hurdle said. "We were able to be -- the at-bats were better, the approach got better, but he kept making pitches. The last two games they kept us off the plate."
Sidelined with an arm injury when the Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, Wainwright threw seven innings of three-hit ball to beat Pittsburgh 9-1 in the series opener.
He is 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and four saves in 15 career postseason games, including six starts. As a rookie closer in 2006, he helped the Cardinals win the World Series.
"It's hard not to think back about what happened in Game 5 last year. I just wanted to prove I could go out there and be a good playoff pitcher," Wainwright said.
The 23-year-old Cole beat the Cardinals with an impressive effort in Game 2. They got to him early this time even though his fastball hit 100 mph in the first inning against Matt Holliday.
Freese made the kid pay for a full-count walk to Jon Jay with two outs in the second, lining a 1-2 pitch into the visitors' bullpen in left.
The Pirates had the bullpen up in the fourth after Yadier Molina's infield hit and a throwing error put runners on second and third. Cole gave up just three hits over five innings, but was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the sixth.