October 2, 2013

Pirates' playoff drought ends with win over Reds

Russell Martin hits two homers as the Pirates advance to play St. Louis.

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Pirates went 21 years between playoff games. The wait will be significantly shorter this time.

Russell Martin, Clint Barmes
click image to enlarge

Russell Martin, right, of the Pittsburgh Pirates is welcomed by Clint Barmes after hitting his first of two homers Tuesday night in a 6-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Associated Press

Marlon Byrd, Brandon Phillips
click image to enlarge

Marlon Byrd had never reached the post-season in his career until Tuesday night, and wouldn't you know, his first at-bat produced a home run for the Pirates.

The Associated Press

Additional Photos Below

Russell Martin homered twice, Francisco Liriano was dominant for seven innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates roared past Cincinnati for a 6-2 victory in the NL wild-card game Tuesday night.

In front of a black-clad crowd savoring its first postseason game since 1992, Marlon Byrd also connected, and Andrew McCutchen had two hits and reached base four times for Pittsburgh.

Liriano scattered four hits for the Pirates, who will face St. Louis in Game 1 of the NL division series Thursday. Liriano struck out five and walked one to win the first playoff game of his career.

Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto struggled in his third start since coming off the disabled list last month. Cueto gave up four runs in 31/3 innings and appeared rattled by a raucous ballpark that taunted him throughout by chanting his name.

Byrd, acquired by the Pirates in late August from the New York Mets, celebrated the first postseason at-bat of his 12-year career -- 1,250 games -- by sending Cueto's fastball into the seats to give the Pirates the lead. The shot sent another jolt through an already electric crowd, which began singing "Cue-to, Cue-to" in unison when Martin stepped in.

Martin sent a drive into the bleachers in left field. The Reds never recovered, ending a 90-win season with a six-game losing streak.

Three of those losses came against Pittsburgh at Cincinnati in the final series of the season that determined the site of the win-or-die game.

Cincinnati Manager Dusty Baker backed Cueto before the game, saying his ace "thrives on this environment." Maybe, but the right-hander never looked comfortable in front of the largest crowd in PNC Park history, a place where Cueto has dominated.

Cueto, who came in 8-2 at the ballpark by the Allegheny River, even lost his grip on the ball while standing on the mound.

A moment later he lost his grip on the game.

Martin's 405-foot shot to left-center gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead and all the momentum Liriano would require.

Signed on the cheap in the offseason after a mediocre 2012 split between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox, Liriano has been reborn in Pittsburgh. He went 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA during the regular season, his devastating slider nearly unhittable against left-handers.

The Reds proved no match. Joey Votto went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Jay Bruce produced an RBI single in the fourth but Cincinnati never really threatened on a night baseball officially returned to Pittsburgh after a 20-year trek through purgatory.

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

Francisco Liriano
click image to enlarge

Francisco Liriano, who resurrected his career this season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, allowed four hits over seven innings in a dominating performance in a 6-2 victory against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Associated Press

  


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)


 

Blogs

Clearing the Bases - Friday
Pitching, pitching, pitching

More PPH Blogs

Winter sports 2013-2014

High School Football 2013

Fall sports photos