Page last updated on Tue Apr 28 15:51:09 EDT 2015
10/06/2013 9:20 PM EDT
Pirates edge Cardinals 5-3, take 2-1 lead in NLDS
PITTSBURGH 5, ST LOUIS 3
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Pinch-runner Josh Harrison stood on second
base in the bottom of the eighth inning and pointed to
Pittsburgh Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva.
"I told him to get that arm ready, because I'm coming," Harrison
Moments later, Harrison was streaking across home plate to give
the Pirates the lead. Minutes after that, the Jolly Roger that's
been a fixture on the Pittsburgh skyline all summer climbed up
the flagpole again.
Harrison scored on Pedro Alvarez's tiebreaking single Sunday,
sending the Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis
Cardinals that staked Pittsburgh to a 2-1 lead in the
best-of-five NL division series.
Russell Martin followed with a sharp RBI single against reliever
Kevin Siegrist, who took over after Carlos Martinez (0-1)
The go-ahead single was the latest big hit by Alvarez. He
homered in the first two games against St. Louis and is 4 for 10
with four RBIs in the series.
Alvarez also kept the Pirates' famous flag flying high in
October. "Raise the Jolly Roger!" is the rallying cry for this
wild-card team, now one victory from its first postseason series
win since Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and the "We Are Family"
gang won it all in 1979.
"We're continuing to surprise a lot of people, I believe. We're
continuing to show people that we're not done, that we're not
just happy to be in the postseason," star center fielder Andrew
McCutchen said. "We're fighting to win a World Series."
Heady territory for a franchise that had endured a record 20
consecutive years of losing coming into this season. Six months
later, the Pirates are on the cusp of knocking out baseball
Mark Melancon (1-0) picked up the win despite allowing Carlos
Beltran's tying home run in the top of the eighth. Jason Grilli
worked the ninth for a save.
Charlie Morton is set to start for Pittsburgh in Game 4 on
Monday against rookie Michael Wacha.
Beltran finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs. His 16th playoff home
run moved him past Babe Ruth for eighth place in postseason
"It's a must-win tomorrow for us," Beltran said. "Hopefully we
can come here tomorrow, take care of business, win and go play
the last game at home."
Beltran's shot temporarily silenced a rocking crowd at PNC Park.
It also set the stage for another dramatic win by the Pirates.
McCutchen led off the eighth with his second hit, a double to
left. But the NL MVP candidate unwisely tried to advance on
Justin Morneau's grounder to shortstop and was an easy out at
Harrison ran for Morneau and moved up when Marlon Byrd walked.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny turned to a lefty in Siegrist to
face the left-handed Alvarez. The Pittsburgh slugger tied for
the NL lead with 36 homers during the regular season, but hit
just .180 against lefties.
"I just knew it was going to be a tough matchup," Alvarez said.
"I've seen him a couple of times before. I haven't had much
success. He's a pitcher with good stuff - great stuff. He threw
me a couple of fastballs out over the plate."
One too many, as it turned out, and Alvarez singled between
first and second. Martin then fouled off a squeeze bunt before
lining a hit to left that gave Grilli more than enough cushion.
The game was a rare nail-biter between two clubs that spent the
summer shadowing each other in the race for the NL Central
title. Coming into Sunday, only five of the previous 21 matchups
between the two were decided by two runs or less.
After blowouts by each club in St. Louis, there wasn't much room
to breathe in front of a frenzied, black-clad crowd looking for
a repeat of Pittsburgh's giddy 6-2 romp over Cincinnati in the
wild-card game last Tuesday.
Martin's sacrifice fly off reliever Seth Maness in the sixth
gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead and turned the game over to
Pittsburgh's "Shark Tank" bullpen, one of the keys to the
franchise's first winning season and playoff berth in a
Tony Watson worked around a one-out single in the seventh before
giving way to Melancon.
The Cardinals must win two straight to advance to the NL
championship series for the third straight year.
"We've been in this situation," Beltran said. "Last year, I
think we were in this situation a lot. So I think we're fine,
man. We want to come here tomorrow, we want to win and hopefully
take this series home."
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano dominated the Cardinals during
the regular season, going 3-0 with an 0.75 ERA in three starts
against the NL's highest-scoring team. He was electric against
the Reds last Tuesday, shaking off a sinus infection and
baffling them with a series of changeups and sliders that ended
Cincinnati's season and manager Dusty Baker's tenure.
Liriano narrowly escaped damage in the third Sunday when Matt
Holliday lined to right with the bases loaded.
The left-hander wasn't quite as fortunate in the fifth. Jon Jay
led off with a single and Pete Kozma followed with a walk. After
pitcher Joe Kelly struck out trying to bunt, a double steal set
up Beltran's two-run single.
At 2-all, the Cardinals had matched their entire output against
Liriano in their previous 28 innings.
Liriano was matched nearly pitch for pitch by the unflappable
Kelly. The 25-year-old right-hander has been rock-steady all
season, even as he moved from middle reliever to starter in
Kelly welcomed the hostile environment, calling the sea of
black-clad fans that awaited him one of the things a kid dreams
The reality proved a little more unnerving, at least when Byrd
hit a two-run single in the first.
The well-traveled outfielder - who played in 1,250
regular-season games before reaching the playoffs for the first
time - has been a welcome jolt both in the lineup and in the
clubhouse for the Pirates.
"Just having a heck of a time," Byrd said.
NOTES: Grilli worked around a leadoff single in the ninth. ...
McCutchen is batting .538 (7 for 13) and has an on-base
percentage of .684 in the playoffs. His five walks rank first in
the league this postseason. ... Beltran's home run was the first
by the Cardinals in 10 games at PNC Park this year.
Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP
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