The Pittsburgh Pirates scored two runs in the bottom of the 8th inning on Sunday night and won 5-3, taking a two-games-to-one advantage over the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 National League Divisional Series.
In the third inning, Francisco Liriano got into his first jam. After walking Carlos Beltran, Liriano faced Matt Holliday with two outs and the bases loaded but he managed to escape the jam by getting Holliday to line out to right field.
Liriano was given a two-run lead in the bottom of the first as Marlon Byrd came up big against Cards’ starter Joe Kelly. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Byrd lined the second pitch off of Kelly into left field, scoring both Andrew McCutchen and Justin Morneau. Byrd, acquired in a trade with the New York Mets, has been a big piece to the Pirates’ success on their march to the playoffs.
It remained a 2-0 game until the top of the 5th inning. After a successful double steal and first base open, the Pirates opted to pitch to red-hot Carlos Beltran as he stepped up to the batter’s box with two on and two out. Beltran continued his playoff tear by singling up to center and scoring both Jon Jay and Pete Kozma, tying the game at two.
It remained tied when Russell Martin came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth. Martin struck out in his first two plate appearances against Cards’ starter Joe Kelly. Facing relief pitcher Seth Maness after the Pirates loaded the bases with two outs, Martin drove the first pitch to center field for a sacrifice play, scoring McCutchen and making it a 3-2 score.
It appeared as if the Pirates’ bullpen would be able to hold the lead, but leading off the top of the eight inning, Carlos Beltran blasted an 0-1 pitch to deep right-center field, passing Babe Ruth for most home runs in postseason play (8th) and silencing PNC Park. Beltran accounted for all three Cardinals runs and finished the night with a game-high Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) of .920. wOBA is a metric which according to Fangraphs.com “measure a hitter’s overall offensive value, based on the relative values of each distinct offensive event.”
Pittsburgh wasted no time in getting the lead back. In the bottom half of the eight inning, McCutchen led off with a double, reinvigorating the crowd. He would be thrown out at third base on a grounder to short by Morneau. With two on and one out, Pirates’ third baseman Pedro Alvarez stepped up to the plate and knocked in a run with a single to right field. Adding an insurance run and making up for his two strikeouts earlier in the game, Martin lined a 1-2 pitch to left field, giving the Bucs a 5-3 advantage.
Jason Grilli closed the door on the Cardinals in the top of the ninth as the enthusiastic Pittsburgh faithful erupted.
The Pirates are now one win away from advancing to the National League Championship Series for the first time since 1992.
In 2009, the Pittsburgh Pirates struggled to average above 19,000 fans per game. In their game three victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, 40,489 fans, filling every section of the ballpark with black and gold, roared in approval as the Pirates are now one game closer to winning their first playoff series in 34 years.
NLDS Game 4 – St. Louis @ Pittsburgh – Monday, October 7th, 3:00 PM EST – TBS