Pirates defeat Reds 6-2 to advance to NLDS

The Pittsburgh Pirates' 2013 Postseason run will last more than one game. The Pirates won the Wild Card playoff game 6-2 over the Cincinnati Reds, advancing to the NL Division Series against the St Louis Cardinals.

Pittsburgh jumped all over Johnny Cueto early, scoring a pair of runs in the second inning thanks to solo homers by Marlon Byrd and Russell Martin. The inning could have resulted in more damage to Cincinnati, but Todd Frazier made a great catch to end the inning. In the third, the Bucs added a third run after a sac fly from Pedro Alvarez, and the game began slipping away.

In the fourth, Jay Bruce singled in Shin-Soo Choo to make it a 3-1 game, but Francisco Liriano struck out Frazier to end the inning. Cueto allowed a double to Starling Marte in the bottom of the fourth, and that hit was the last straw as Dusty Baker pulled his struggling ace. Sean Marshall relieved him and promptly gave up a double to Neil Walker to make it a 4-1 game. Marshall intentionally walked Andrew McCutchen and unintentionally walked Justin Morneau to load the bases for Marlon Byrd. JJ Hoover replaced Marshall on the hill and got a double play ground ball from Byrd…but Brandon Phillips dropped the ball, leading to just the force on Morneau at second and another run scoring, making it 5-1.

Martin tacked on his second homer of the game in the seventh to make it 6-1, and Choo hit a homer that was reviewed and upheld in the eighth to once again drop the lead to four runs. But Jason Grilli shut the door in the ninth, preserving the win for the Pirates and sending them to St Louis for Game 1 on Thursday.

The stars came out to play for the Pirates. Every offensive starter except for Alvarez reached base, Martin went 3/4 with two homers, while NL MVP candidate McCutchen went 2/3 with a run and two walks. On the hill, Liriano was awesome, allowing one run on four hits in seven innings, punching out five and walking one. Liriano threw just 90 pitches in the win, and got 14 ground ball outs and 17 whiffs. On the other side of the field, Cueto lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits, walking one hitter while not striking a single one out. He just didn't have it on Tuesday, throwing first pitch strikes to only nine of the 19 hitters he faced. Ryan Ludwick had a three hit night with the stick, including two doubles, but didn't drive in or score a run. In possibly his last game as a Red, impending free agent Choo went 1/3 with two runs and that solo homer. Cincinnati's three-four duo of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips went a combined 0/8 with two strikeouts, and saw just ten pitches each.

Game 1 of the NLDS between the Pirates and Cardinals will be at 5:07 PM on Thursday. AJ Burnett gets the nod for the Pirates, while Adam Wainwright starts for St Louis.

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.