The Cardinals who had been looking for a boost in the September stretch drive appear to have found him.

Righthanded rookie Michael Wacha the club’s top draft pick last year had had his innings count marshaled by the organization this year so he still would be strong for his first September as a professional.

How strong has Wacha been in September? The 22-year-old hasn’t allowed a run in 13 innings over two starts this month since being recalled from the minors. And he’s given up only five hits all singles.

Today he blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates on two hits for seven innings in a 9-2 win over the suddenly reeling Pirates and bumped the Cardinals’ lead in the National League Central Division to 1 ½ games over Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals won all three games of this series extending the Bucs’ losing streak to four games.

Wacha 3-0 didn’t allow more than one runner in any inning and threw only 97 pitches through his seven frames as he worked quickly.

"I saw the sign (from catcher Yadier Molina) and tried to execute it as best I could" said Wacha.

"I like working pretty fast but sometimes when I start working too fast I get in trouble."

There was no trouble for Wacha today as the Pirates had few answers for his over-the-top delivery and his mixture of fastballs and changeups.

"He had that ‘down’ angle. You don’t see it all the time" said right fielder Garrett Jones who was hitless in three at-bats against Wacha.

"He’s got good deception and a good arm.’’

The Cardinals jumped Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton for five runs in the first two innings before Morton left with a foot injury suffered while he was backing up third base. Morton was on his way to Pittsburgh to be examined by game’s end.

Matt Carpenter had a single and a double giving him a Busch Stadium III record of 100 hits for the season.

"It’s definitely a thrill" said Carpenter. "But there’s nothing bigger than the sweep this weekend against the Pirates.

"That was our last opportunity to play those guys. We needed to have a big series and I don’t think you could have a bigger one getting a sweep like we did..

"There’s still a lot of baseball left but that was a real good start for what we’ve got a mind to finish this month off with."

For the series the Cardinals outscored the Pirates 26-10 and the Pirates got all but one of those runs in the eighth and ninth innings of blowout games including their two runs in the ninth inning today.