Rampant Pirates down Reds to book NLDS berth
(Reuters) - After more than two decades of misery, the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrated their return to postseason action with a rousing 6-2 home victory over the Cincinnati Reds in their do-or-die National League wild card playoff game on Tuesday.
Left-hander Francisco Liriano held the Reds to one run on four hits over seven innings and was backed by two home runs from catcher Russell Martin as a standing-room only crowd of more than 40,000 at PNC Park waved black hankies and roared their support at Pittsburgh's first playoff game in 21 years.
The victory advanced the Pirates to the best-of-five Division Series against the top-seeded NL Central champion Cardinals starting on Thursday in St Louis.
"You talk about feeling good all over," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told reporters after getting showered with champagne by his players.
"Our ball park showed up. Our fan base showed up. Our city showed up. Our guys fed off of that from the beginning," he added.
"It was tremendous energy. I've been to a lot of great venues, played in some important games, but that spark from our fan base, I don't know if I ever felt that before."
Liriano was dominant, setting down the first nine Reds batters, who did not get the ball out of the infield until the fourth inning. The Dominican walked one and struck out five before giving way to Tony Watson and closer Jason Grilli.
Second-inning home runs by Marlon Byrd and Martin off Reds starter Johnny Cueto got the Pirates started and they added another run in the third on a sacrifice fly by Pedro Alvarez for a 3-0 lead.
The home run by 36-year-old Byrd came in his first postseason at-bat after playing 1,250 major league games for seven clubs. Continued...