Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Two decades of losing in the Steel City
has given way to this: The Pittsburgh Pirates are one win away from the
National League Championship Series.
Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead RBI single in a two-run eighth inning on Sunday
and the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 in Game 3 of the NL Division
In the playoffs for the first time since 1992, the Pirates took a 2-1 lead in
the best-of-five series with Game 4 set for Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Russell Martin also had an RBI single in the eighth after Carlos Beltran tied
the game for the Cardinals with his second home run of the series in the top
of the inning.
Beltran's solo homer off Mark Melancon -- the 16th postseason home run of his
career, moving him past Babe Ruth for eighth all-time -- made it 3-3, bringing
a dose of drama to a series that began with two blowouts in St. Louis.
Indeed, the eighth inning was a roller coaster.
After Beltran quieted the PNC Park crowd with his homer -- the right fielder
knocked in all three St. Louis runs -- Andrew McCutchen picked them up with a
leadoff double to left in the bottom of the eighth off Carlos Martinez (0-1).
Just as quickly, the mood turned again -- and then again.
McCutchen, trying to take third on Justin Morneau's grounder to shortstop Pete
Kozma, was thrown out standing up. But Marlon Byrd walked, moving pinch-runner
Josh Harrison to second, and Harrison raced home on Alvarez's single through
the right side. Martin's hit to left after that scored Byrd.
Jason Grilli then retired three in a row after giving up a leadoff single to
Matt Adams, earning his first career postseason save.
The Pirates will start right-hander Charlie Morton on Monday afternoon and the
Cards will turn to righty Michael Wacha, who came within an out of throwing a
no-hitter in his last start of the regular season.
Byrd hit a two-run single and Martin also had two RBI for the Pirates, who got
six innings from NL wild-card game winner Francisco Liriano. McCutchen had two
hits and scored twice.
Liriano, who was 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three starts against St. Louis in the
regular season, gave up a two-run Beltran single in the fifth and three hits
overall. He walked two and struck out five.
Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly came out with the bases loaded and one out in
the sixth. Two of the three runs charged to the right-hander in 5 1/3 innings
-- including one in the sixth -- were earned. He gave up five hits and four
walks and had five strikeouts.
Kelly, who went 10-2 after the Cardinals moved him into the starting rotation
in July, walked McCutchen to lead off the sixth and gave up a one-out double
to Byrd. After intentionally walking Alvarez to load the bases, he was pulled
for Seth Maness.
Martin sent the next pitch into deep center field to score McCutchen easily
for a 3-2 Pirates lead.
Earlier, Byrd's single through the left side in the first inning scored
McCutchen and Morneau to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Both reached base with
two outs on a walk and a single then moved up on Kozma's throwing error.
Liriano retired the first seven Cardinals hitters before Kozma doubled in the
third. Kozma later went to third on a wild pitch but Liriano escaped a bases-
loaded jam when Matt Holliday flied out.
Beltran's two-out, two-run single in the fifth tied the game. Jon Jay and
Kozma scored on the play after they reached base with no outs.
The seven players with more playoff home runs than Beltran: Manny Ramirez
(29), Bernie Williams (22), Derek Jeter (20), Albert Pujols (18), Reggie
Jackson (18), Mickey Mantle (18) and Jim Thome (17) ... The Cardinals were
11-3 in the games Kelly started during the regular season, a mark that
included an eight-game winning streak between Aug. 1 and Sept. 6.
The Sports Network