NLDS Game 3: Alvarez delivers in 8th, Pirates beat Cardinals 5-3

Carlos Beltran tied the game in the eighth inning with his second home run of the series, but the Pirates responded with two runs in the bottom half to regain the lead for good and take a 2-1 lead over the Cardinals in the National League Division Series.

The atmosphere at PNC Park was predictably electric during pregame ceremonies, and things only got louder in the bottom of the first inning when a Pete Kozma throwing error put Andrew McCutchen and Justin Morneau in scoring position for Marlon Byrd. Byrd delivered with the two-run single to give the Pirates the early lead.

After two quick innings to start the game, Francisco Liriano ran into a bit of trouble with two outs in the third. He hit Matt Carpenter with a pitch, threw a wild pitch that allowed Kozma to reach third, and then walked Carlos Beltran to load the bases. Liriano got Matt Holliday to line out on a well-struck ball to Byrd to end the threat with no runs scoring.

The Cardinals would get another chance in the fifth, though, and were able to capitalize. After Jon Jay singled to lead off the inning, Kozma walked. A double steal put runners on second and third for Beltran with two outs, who punched a two-run, game-tying single up the middle.

In the bottom of the sixth with runners on second and third following a double by Byrd, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny elected to intentionally walk Pedro Alvarez — who had struck out twice already against Joe Kelly in the game — to load the bases. Seth Maness was brought in to face Russell Martin, who promptly drove in the go-ahead run on a sac fly on the first pitch he saw. Maness was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The Pirates took that 3-2 lead into the eighth inning, where Mark Melancon had been virtually automatic all year. Beltran had other ideas, though, tying the game on a screaming solo home run to right that quickly quieted the PNC Park crowd. Melancon had only given up one home run all season prior to Beltran's blast — 65 appearances ago, on April 14.

McCutchen got the crowd back in it by ripping a double down the left field line to lead off the home half of the eighth, but was thrown out trying to run to third on a Morneau grounder to short. The Bucs were able to rebound from that blunder, though, taking the lead back when Alvarez — who hit .180/.252/.286 against left-handed pitchers this season — delivered an RBI single against Kevin Siegrist, who had an ERA of 0.45 and struck out 50 batters in 45 regular season appearances.

Martin tacked on an extra insurance run to give Jason Grilli a two-run lead heading into the ninth. Matt Adams led off with a single for the Cardinals, but that would be all St. Louis could muster.

The Pirates will send Charlie Morton to the mound for Monday's 3:07 p.m. ET start, looking for their first postseason series win (excluding this year's wildcard game) since the 1979 World Series. Rookie Michael Wacha will start for the Cardinals, trying to get the series back to St. Louis for Game 5.

About Jaymes Langrehr

Jaymes grew up in Wisconsin, and still lives there because no matter how much he complains about it, deep down he must like the miserable winters. He also contributes to Brewers blog Disciples of Uecker when he isn't too busy trying to be funny on Twitter.