Eighth-inning RBI singles by Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin lifted the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-3 Sunday afternoon home win over the St. Louis Cardinals, and to a 2-games-to-1 lead in their best-of-5 National League Division Series.
The victory, before a PNC Park record crowd of 40, 489, means the Pirates need just one win to move on to the league championship series, and will have up to two opportunities to earn that win. The next meeting with the Cards is set for 3:07 PM Monday in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates took a 2-0 advantage in the first inning on a two-run single by Marlon Byrd. St. Louis tied the game in the fifth frame on a two-run base hit by Carlos Beltran. Martin put the Bucs ahead 3-2 with a sixth-inning sacrifice fly. Beltran knotted the contest at 3-3 in the top of the eighth with his 16th career postseason home run, moving him ahead of Babe Ruth into eighth place in that category.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Andrew McCutchen led off with a double. After McCutchen was thrown out at third base on a ground ball by Justin Morneau, Byrd walked. Alvarez, who hit .180 this season against left-handed pitchers, then put the Pirates ahead with a base hit off southpaw Kevin Siegrist, and Martin followed with his own run-producing hit.
McCutchen and Byrd both recorded two of the eight Pirates hits. Reliever Mark Melancon earned the win, even after allowing the tying homer by Beltran. Jason Grilli pitched the ninth inning to garner the save.
Rookie Carlos Martinez took the loss for the Cardinals. Beltran and Pete Kozma both had two of the seven St. Louis hits.
Monday’s scheduled starters are Charlie Morton (7-4) for Pittsburgh and rookie Michael Wacha (4-1) for the Cardinals.