PITTSBURGH (AP) The St. Louis Cardinals have to wait at least one more day to break out the champagne after rain postponed Tuesday night's game in Pittsburgh.
Considering the rest of the good news that greeted the team with the best record in the majors on Tuesday, the Cardinals can handle the wait.
St. Louis can wrap up a third straight NL Central title on Wednesday if it takes either game of a day/night doubleheader. The Cardinals will start Michael Wacha (17-6, 3.15 ERA) in the opener against Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole (18-8, 2.60) and send Tyler Lyons (2-1, 3.96) to face Charlie Morton (9-8, 4.54) in the second.
While Matheny remained cautious about his team's chances - stressing ''we've got a game to win'' - there is plenty of cause for optimism.
Rookie outfielder Stephen Piscotty was discharged from the hospital early Tuesday, an encouraging sign following a frightening collision with teammate Peter Bourjos in Monday night's 3-0 victory. And ace Adam Wainwright is expected to be activated on Wednesday after spending five months on the disabled list with a torn left Achilles.
Piscotty was held overnight for observation after suffering a head contusion when Bourjos' left knee smacked into him while the two chased a fly ball to the left-center gap in the seventh inning. Piscotty left PNC Park on a stretcher with his head secured to a backboard. Matheny said the 24-year-old passed a series of neurological tests on Tuesday morning before being released.
''(The doctors) were very impressed with the way (the tests) turned out,'' Matheny said.
Piscotty's father flew to Pittsburgh early Tuesday to join him, and Matheny said Piscotty will travel with his teammates when the Cardinals head to Atlanta later this week though it's uncertain when he'll be able to play. Matheny visited Piscotty in the hospital late Monday night and said Piscotty had no recollection of the injury and instead wanted a full rundown of the victory that trimmed St. Louis' magic number for a third straight division title to two.
''We would have stayed longer but you could tell he was kind of ready for us to go,'' Matheny said. ''He felt like he was in good hands.''
Piscotty's speedy recovery wasn't the only good news for St. Louis. Wainwright will be available for one inning on Wednesday in what amounts to an audition for a spot on the team's postseason roster. The three-time All-Star shredded his left Achilles on April 25 and was initially ruled out for the season. The timetable shifted as Wainwright's rehabilitation picked up speed and what looked like a 9-12 month recovery window barely lasted five.
''There is an I told you so for plenty of writers who wrote hilarious articles about this was impossible, it was a pipe dream and I need to shut my mouth,'' Wainwright said with a laugh.
Wainwright will be limited this week but could be available to start in the playoffs if there are no setbacks.
''We'll get a better read once we see him out there competing but he should be right in the middle of all the conversation moving forward,'' Matheny said.
The Pirates, meanwhile, need a sweep on Wednesday to keep their slim hopes of avoiding the wild card for a third straight October. Pittsburgh wasted a chance to pull within two games of St. Louis on Monday when the Pirates left 16 runners on base and gifted the Cardinals a go-ahead run in the ninth when right fielder Gregory Polanco overran a line-drive single by Jon Jay, allowing Matt Carpenter to score from first.
Polanco said afterward he simply dropped the ball while committing his eighth error of the season. The gaffe in the midst of a pennant race did little to shake manager Clint Hurdle's confidence in the talented but still raw 24-year-old whose development is one of the main reasons the Pirates are heading back to the postseason.
''He takes it to heart when he doesn't make the best play he can make,'' Hurdle said of Polanco. ''He's very conscious when he doesn't feel he defended his position ... these are opportunities, as painful as they are, for growth. What we ask out of any player is when you make a mistake to admit it, correct it and do the best you can to not repeat it.''
NOTES: Cardinals C Yadier Molina expects to be ready when the playoffs begin. Molina is dealing with a slightly torn ligament in his left thumb. While Molina said there is considerable pain in the thumb it will be strong enough to catch and swing a bat by next week. ... Hurdle said the rotation for the final series of the regular season against Cincinnati remains in flux and will depend on Pittsburgh's spot in the standings. The Pirates are trying to hold off the Chicago Cubs for home field in the wild-card round.