Pittsburgh (AFP) – The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3, putting the Pirates on the brink of reaching the second round of the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The Pirates, who are in the post-season for the first time in 21 years, seized a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League series.
“Unbelievable. We love it,” said Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin. “We want to keep it going. We knew that we were going to be able to battle back and find a way to win.”
Game four is scheduled for Monday in Pittsburgh.
Martin belted an RBI single in the eighth after Carlos Beltran had tied the game for St. Louis with his second home run of the series in the top half of the eighth.
“When we gave up that go-ahead run on that homer by Beltran it could have been a post-season killer but to come back and put up that run was huge for us,” said Pirates outfielder Marlon Byrd.
St. Louis routed the upstart Pirates in game one, but Pittsburgh rebounded in a big way with a dominating 7-1 win in game two to even the series.
Beltran’s solo homer off pitcher Mark Melancon made it 3-3, adding to the drama of the series that began with two lopsided contests in St. Louis. It was the 16th playoff homer of his career, moving him past Babe Ruth for eighth all-time.
Byrd hit a two-run single and Martin also had two RBI for the Pirates, who got six innings from starting pitcher Francisco Liriano. McCutchen had two hits and scored twice.
Liriano gave up a two-run Beltran single in the fifth and three hits overall. He also walked two and struck out five. Liriano was 3-0 in three starts against the Cardinals in the regular season.
Cardinals starter Joe Kelly came out with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning. The right-hander gave up three runs in just over five innings of work, allowed five hits and walked four. He also struck out five batters.
The Pirates narrowly won the season series 10-9 but lost six of nine contests in St. Louis.
Pittsburgh, who have all the momentum in this series now, are back in the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
The Pirates will start right-hander Charlie Morton on Monday and the Cards will turn to Michael Wacha.
In his final start of the regular season, Wacha came within an out of throwing a no-hitter.
“Tomorrow, the guys will be ready and we will put our best game out there,” said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.
In the other National League playoff contest Sunday, the Los Angeles Dodgers used a pair of four-run innings to clobber the Atlanta Braves and take a 2-1 series lead.
Carl Crawford belted a three-run homer and scored three times, Juan Uribe clubbed two-run homer and scored twice, and Yasiel Puig collected three hits, two RBI and scored three runs for the Dodgers, who bounced back from Friday’s 4-3 loss.
The Dodgers’ potent offense made up for a problematic playoff debut by South Korean rookie pitcher Ryu Hyun-Jin. Ryu allowed four runs on six hits in just three innings of work.
Los Angeles left-hander Chris Capuano came on in relief to earn the victory.
Atlanta starter Julio Teheran was tagged for six runs on eight hits over 2 2/3 innings of work.