Pirates beat Reds, will face Cardinals Thursday in NLDS Game 1

By John Perrotto, Special for USA TODAY Sports


- Sports fans here have long been noted for making plenty of noise at sporting events - at games of the Steelers and Penguins.

However, after 21 years of waiting for another postseason game to come to city, Pirates fans cut loose Tuesday night and were almost as big of a story as Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano as Pittsburgh beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the National League Wild Card at PNC Park.

The crowd of 40,487 - a record for the 12-year-old ballpark - starting chanting 45 minutes before the game and was raucous throughout as the Pirates advanced to the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. That series opens Thursday afternoon at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The Pirates finished in second place in the NL Central, three games behind the Cardinals, but won the regular-season series 10-9.

Martin became just the second player in Pirates history to have a multi-home run game in the postseason as the catcher went 3-for-4 and paced a 12-hit attack. Bob Robertson hit three homers in Game 3 of the 1971 National League Championship Series at San Francisco.

Liriano allowed only one run and four hits for his first career postseason victory. The left-hander, who won a team-high 16 games in the regular season, struck out five and walked one.

"The fans brought the energy tonight," Martin said in a TV interview. "Francisco pitched an incredible game. Overall, it was just a great day for Pittsburgh.

"This is 20 years of waiting. It all came out in one night. Hopefully we can keep it going through October."

Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen had two hits each for the Pirates while Marlon Byrd homered and drove in two runs.

Reds starter Johnny Cueto took the loss as he failed to make it past the fourth inning. He gave up four runs - three earned - on seven hits and one walk while failing to record a strikeout.

Ryan Ludwick had three of the Reds' six hits and Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo home run that was upheld by umpire review in the eighth inning to conclude the scoring.

Reds manager Dusty Baker fell to 3-7 in elimination games.

Martin and Byrd both hit solo home runs in the second inning to open the scoring while the crowd chanted "Cue-to, Cue-to." Pedro Alvarez's sacrifice fly in the third made it 3-0.

The Reds got their lone run off Liriano in the fourth on Jay Bruce's RBI single. The Pirates answered with top of the bottom of the inning to increase their lead to 5-1 as Starling Marte and Neil Walker produced a run with back-to-back doubles then Walker scored when second baseman Brandon Phillips booted Byrd's potential inning-ending double play grounder and settled for a force out.

Martin homered again in the seventh, and after closer Jason Grilli's scoreless night, it was on to St. Louis.

"I like our chances," Martin said. "We played them tough all year long. We're just going to have to bring our A game."


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