ST. LOUIS (AP) – Jack Wilson gave the Pittsburgh Pirates a dramatic opening-day victory.

With the Pirates down to their last strike, Wilson hit a three-run double to cap a four-run ninth inning off rookie closer Jason Motte, leading Pittsburgh over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 Monday.

In a game played in 41-degree chill, Ryan Ludwick broke a 2-2 tie with a leadoff homer in the eighth off Tyler Yates, and David Freese added a sacrifice fly off John Grabow (1-0) for a 4-2 lead.

Freddy Sanchez led off the ninth with a double off Motte, a hard-throwing right-hander who won a three-way battle for the closer’s job in spring training. Adam LaRoche singled in a run with one out, pinch-hitter Eric Hinske doubled LaRoche to third, Brandon Moss was hit by a pitch and Wilson doubled to left-center on an 0-2 fastball.

St. Louis didn’t warm up anyone until after Wilson’s hit.

Matt Capps pitched the ninth for the save, sealing the third straight opening-day win for the Pirates, who have finished last in the NL Central in three of the last four seasons. Nyjer Morgan had three hits and two RBIs as the Pirates overcame three errors.

Albert Pujols was 3-for-4 with an intentional walk for the Cardinals.

Adam Wainwright made his first official opening day start, a year after he pitched in an opener that was wiped out by rain after three innings. He allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings, and he combined to strike out (seven) or walk (five) nearly half his 25 batters. While the strikeouts were one shy of his career best, he matched his high for walks, set in his final start last season. He even walked Pirates starter Paul Maholm on four pitches.

After Pittsburgh stranded five runners in the first two innings, St. Louis went ahead in the third on run-scoring singles by Khalil Greene and Ludwick following the first of LaRoche’s two errors at third.

Wainwright walked his last two hitters, and Morgan hit a two-run single off Trever Miller. Maholm, a career .139 hitter coming in, walked against Josh Kinney in the sixth.

Maholm had a team-high nine wins last year, the lowest total for a Pirates staff leader since 1981, and moved one slot ahead of ’08 opening day starter Ian Snell and two slots ahead of Zach Duke (’07) in the rotation.

Notes: Cardinals Hall of Famers Stan Musial, 88, and Red Schoendienst, 86, tag-teamed the first pitch. Musial rode a cart to the mound and flipped the ball to Schoendienst, who walked halfway to the plate and made an underhand throw. … There was a moment of silence before the game for longtime instructors George Kissell and Dave Ricketts, and former scouting director Fred McAlister, all of whom died in the past year. … The Pirates opened on the road for the fourth straight season. … Greene entered the season with 15 career at-bats as the cleanup hitter, all in 2007 with the Padres. He batted .408 with 17 RBIs in spring training.

AP-ES-04-06-09 1947EDT

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