The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Pro

September 29, 2013

Pirates blast way to home playoff

CINCINNATI — Hundreds of Pirates fans stood, twirled their towels and chanted “Let’s Go Bucs!” as Jay Bruce hit a grounder for the final out, setting up a playoff game in Pittsburgh.

Baseball, this time.

Neil Walker hit two of Pittsburgh’s six homers – its biggest power surge in six years – and the Pirates clinched home-field advantage for the NL’s wild card playoff game by beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 Saturday.

Pittsburgh will host the Reds on Tuesday night in the Pirates’ first playoff appearance in 21 years. Pittsburgh went 50-31 at PNC Park, the third-best home record in the NL, and wanted to make that long-awaited playoff return at home.

They got what they wanted. The postseason will start at PNC Park.

“It’s going to be a really exciting time,” Walker said. “Something a lot of people haven’t experienced with Pirate baseball. I imagine it’s going to be Steeler-esque on Tuesday.”

The Reds will go with Johnny Cueto (5-2) in the one-game playoff against left-hander Francisco Liriano

(16-8). Mat Latos was on schedule to start for Cincinnati, but manager Dusty Baker said he’s developed a sore arm.

The Pirates won five of nine games against the Reds at PNC Park this season.

“The important thing for me is getting the guys home and playing in a park where we won 50 games and giving our fans a taste of postseason baseball,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Pittsburgh hit five homers off Bronson Arroyo

(14-12), who had never given up that many in a game in his career. Walker homered twice off the right-hander, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez also hit solo homers, and Marlon Byrd had a two-run shot that ended Arroyo’s outing in the fifth and made it

6-3.

Latos isn’t the only Reds starter who’s hurting. Arroyo said his back started bothering him Saturday.

“It locked up right before the game,” Arroyo said. “I was in the tunnel. It was like I was being stabbed in the ribs and I couldn’t swivel from side to side.

“I don’t think it had much to do with the game. You can’t leave balls in up the zone in this ballpark against that lineup and get away with it.”

Prospect Andrew Lambo hit his first homer off Logan Ondrusek, the first time the Pirates had six in a game since Aug. 22, 2007 at Colorado.

Pirates starter Charlie Morton also struggled, leaving with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. Vin Mazzaro (8-2) fanned Zack Cozart and retired Ryan Hanigan on a fly ball as the slumping Reds left the bases loaded for the second time in the game.

Cincinnati stranded 11 runners overall.

Both teams already had clinched wild-card berths heading into their weekend series. Whoever took it would host the one-game showdown. Pittsburgh made quick work of it, winning the opener 4-1 on Friday night and then the second game, too.

“Better to be home than on the road,” McCutchen said. “Today showed how bad we wanted to go home. We answered in a big way.”

The Ohio River rivals have met five times in the playoffs – 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979 and 1990, when the Reds won their last World Series title. The Reds are 13-7 against the Pirates in the postseason. Pittsburgh has played the Reds more than any other team in the playoffs.

The Reds have gone into a deep slump at a very bad time. They’ve lost four in a row since clinching a playoff spot with a 3-2 win over the Mets on Monday night, scoring a total of six runs.

They were at it again in the first inning on Saturday, leaving the bases loaded when Todd Frazier flied out.

Walker and McCutchen hit back-to-back homers in the third for a 2-0 lead. Brandon Phillips had an RBI single and Jay Bruce followed with a two-run double for a 3-2 lead in the third, Cincinnati’s first lead since Monday.

And it didn’t last long.

Alvarez led off the fourth inning with a first-pitch homer, tying it at 3. Alvarez’s 36th homer gave him 100 RBIs. Walker hit his career-high 16th homer in the fifth inning – the first multihomer game of his career – and Byrd’s two-run shot ended Arroyo’s outing. Walker has seven homers in September.

Lambo’s pinch-hit homer let the Pirates tie the record for most by a visiting team at Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.

Notes: Walker has homered in five of his last nine games. ... Alvarez is the first Pirates third baseman to drive in 100 runs since Aramis Ramirez drove in 110 in 2001. His 36 homers are a club record for a third baseman. ... Byrd had three hits for the second straight game. ... Philips fouled a pitch off his left shin in the fifth inning, raising a welt. He singled and left for a runner. X-rays were negative. ... Joey Votto walked three times, moving him ahead of Joe Morgan’s previous club record for a season. Votto has walked 135 times.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Pro
  • Shelley and McElligot Series serves as reunion for former Chiefs personnel

    Not so long ago, Bob McElligott, like most Western Pennsylvania hockey fans, would savor a long Pittsburgh Penguins playoff run.
    The Somerset native followed the Pens’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1991 and 1992.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malkin nearing return

    The Columbus Blue Jackets are the closest NHL team to the Pittsburgh Penguins, at least geographically. The two franchises are separated by 185 miles of highway.

    April 15, 2014

  • Reds swing way past Pirates

    Mike Leake doubled and hit a two-run homer Tuesday night, ending Gerrit Cole's winning streak and leading the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates that completed two days full of homers and delays.
    First, the NL Central rivals completed a game that was suspended in the sixth inning because of rain the previous night.

    April 15, 2014

  • Pirates Game 1 0415 Pirates edge out Reds in suspended game

    After all those home runs and an overnight delay, it was settled by a single.
    Andrew McCutchen doubled and came around on Russell Martin’s single in the seventh inning on Tuesday, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates an 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in the completion of a game that spanned two days and 10 home runs.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0414 Pressure on Penguins to capture Cup

    The statistics are gaudy.
    And if the Pittsburgh Penguins can’t find a way to extend their season into the final days of spring, ultimately forgettable.
    The same team that led the NHL in man games lost due to injury (more than 500) also earned 109 points, led the Metropolitan Division from mid-October on and received another peerless effort from star Sidney Crosby, who topped the league with 104 points and is a near lock for the second MVP award of his career.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0413 Brewers sweep away Pirates

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Senators dump Penguins in shootout

    April 13, 2014

  • Pirates 0412 Brewers continue hot play

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Penguins 0412 Flyers cut down Penguins in OT

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • first inning Hot Brewers sink Pirates

    Aramis Ramirez hit a two-run homer that backed Wily Peralta, and the Milwaukee Brewers extended their winning streak to seven with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.
    Francisco Liriano befuddled the Brewers with his slider over the first three innings before Ramirez sent a 1-2 fastball over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

Yes
No
I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos


Photo Slideshow

House Ads