Final

Playoff Series: Game 1 of 1

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 10/1)

Game 1: Tuesday, October 1
Cincinnati2Final
Pittsburgh6

Reds 2

 

Coverage:  TBS

8:07 PM ET, October 1, 2013

PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

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W: F. Liriano (1-0)

L: J. Cueto (0-1)

Russell Martin's 2 HRs lead Pirates past Reds; Cards next

ESPN.com news services

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

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

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

"We're for real," McCutchen said. "We're definitely for real."

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

"We didn't talk about one-and-done; we talked about one and run," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Win one and run to St. Louis."

Cincinnati starter Johnny Cueto struggled in his third start since coming off the disabled list last month. He gave up four runs in 3 1/3 innings and appeared rattled by a raucous crowd that taunted him by chanting his name.

The 36-year-old 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.

"This is 20 years of waiting. You're seeing it all come out in one night," Martin said. "Hopefully we can keep this atmosphere 'til late October."

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 in Cincinnati, in the final series of the season, which 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 Cueto has dominated.

Cueto, who went 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.

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the eighth, a drive to right field that was upheld by video review.

Afterward, second baseman Brandon Phillips took to Twitter and shouldered the blame for the end of Cincinnati's season. Phillips went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

#RealTalk... It's all MY fault for letting down #RedsCountry tonight! Y'all really didn't deserve this! Got to do better, PERIOD! #NoExcuses

— Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) October 2, 2013

Pittsburgh's 94-win regular season reignited a relationship sullied by years of mismanagement and miserable play. When the gates opened two hours before the first pitch, fans -- most of them dressed in black at the urging of MVP candidate McCutchen -- sprinted to their seats in anticipation of the club's first postseason game since Atlanta' Sid Bream slid into home ahead of Barry Bonds' throw in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 1992 NL Championship Series.

The victory sent the Braves to the World Series and the Pirates into an abyss it took an entire generation to escape.

The first step came with victory No. 82 on Sept. 9. The next came two weeks later when a win over the Chicago Cubs assured the Pirates of a wild-card spot. The most thrilling yet lifted the team with the 26th-highest payroll in the majors ($73.6 million) into a showdown with baseball royalty.

The Reds, meanwhile, head into an offseason that could be eventful. Baker has led Cincinnati to the playoffs in three of the past four years but the Reds failed to advance each time. They fell to the San Francisco Giants in five games -- after leading 2-0 -- in the division series in 2012 and were swept in the same round by Philadelphia in 2010.

This time, they didn't even make it that far. Cincinnati spent most of the season as the third team in a three-way race with the Pirates and the Cardinals for the NL Central title.

Cueto, who made three trips to the disabled list this season with a strained lat, was pressed into service after bone chips were discovered in projected starter Mat Latos' right (throwing) elbow.

At the time, it seemed like an upgrade. It wasn't. The Pirates made it 3-0 on Tuesday on a sacrifice fly in the third by Pedro Alvarez, and Cueto was pulled when Starling Marte doubled with one out in the fourth. Marte sprinted home on local boy Neil Walker's double off reliever Sean Marshall, and Walker scored on a fielder's choice by Byrd to make it 5-1.

When Martin hit a drive to left off Logan Ondrusek in the seventh, the party seemingly unthinkable for a team that lost 105 games in 2010 began. Martin's long ball marked only the second multihomer playoff game in team history. Bob Robertson hit three in Game 2 of the 1971 NLCS.

Game notes Martin is the first catcher to homer for three teams in the postseason. He previously hit playoff homers for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 and the New York Yankees in 2012. ... Liriano is the first Pittsburgh left-hander to win a playoff game since John Candelaria in Game 3 of the 1979 World Series. ... The Reds have lost four straight playoff games and 11 of their past 13. ... Pittsburgh is the first home team to win since the new wild-card format was introduced last season. ... The Pirates went 10-9 this year against St. Louis. ... Byrd is the oldest player to homer in his first postseason at-bat, according to STATS.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Game Information

StadiumPNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Attendance40,487 (105.5% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Game Time3:14
Weather73 degrees, clear
Wind10 mph
UmpiresHome Plate - Joe West, First Base - Dale Scott, Second Base - Dan Iassogna, Third Base - Rob Drake

Research Notes

Francisco Liriano is the 4th NL left-hander to go at least 7 innings and allow 4 hits or fewer in a winner-take-all postseason game.
  [+]
This is the 2nd time the Pirates have hit at least 3 HR in a postseason game AT HOME. The other was in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series vs the Yankees (won the game).
Russell Martin is the 2nd player ever to hit multiple home runs in an MLB postseason game in Pittsburgh. The other? Mickey Mantle in Game 2 of the 1960 World Series for the Yankees.
Russell Martin is the 7th player and 2nd catcher with 2 HR in a winner-take-all postseason game. The last player with 2 HR in a winner-take-all postseason game was Johnny Damon for the 2004 Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees. The other catcher: Yogi Berra for the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1956 World Series against the Dodgers.
Francisco Liriano is the first Pirates left-handed pitcher to get a hit in a postseason game since John Candelaria in Game 3 of the 1979 World Series vs the Orioles.
From Elias: Russell Martin is the first catcher to HR for 3 different teams in postseason play. He's homered for the Dodgers (2008), Yankees (2012) and Pirates (2013)
Starling Marte is the first Pirates leftfielder with a multi-hit game in the postseason since Barry Bonds in Game 6 of the 1992 NLCS.
Johnny Cueto: allowed 2 HR in 2nd inning. He hadn't allowed 2 HR in an inning since August 21, 2010 against the Dodgers (he allowed 2 HR in an inning twice that day, the last pair to Jay Gibbons and Matt Kemp)

ESPN Stats & Information