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Big League Stew

NLDS Game 2: Rookie Gerrit Cole helps Pirates get even with Cardinals

Big League Stew

After a dud of a performance in the opener, the Pittsburgh Pirates bounced back to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 in Game 2 at Busch Stadium on Friday, evening the best-of-five NL Division Series.

"I mean, again, this is a show‑up game for us," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We had to show up. Whether you're going to win or not, you don't know. But we've got to show up. We've got to show up prepared, ready to play, play clean, pitch it clean, catch it clean, have some good at‑bats when we needed them. We were able to do all of that."

Gerrit Cole, a 22-year-old rookie, stifled the Cardinals for six innings, allowing a run and two hits. He walked one and struck out five, including slugger Carlos Beltran in the sixth — in an electrifying confrontation with a runner aboard.

Cole also opened the scoring in the second with a two-out RBI single in the second. With a base open, the Cardinals had chosen to walk the No. 8 hitter, Jordy Mercer, to put runners at first and second for Cole.

Hurdle said Cole's results have been improving at the plate.

"We're kind of getting used to it, because he's done it a couple times this year," Hurdle said. "He gave us a big swing of the bat in Chicago coming down the stretch. He's our best-hitting pitcher. It's kind of funny, but, I mean, every time before he goes up, he wants details on another pitcher, he wants to know the fastball movement, he wants to know what the secondary pitch is. He takes it all in."

Pedro Alvarez hit a home run for a second straight game, giving the Bucs a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Marlon Byrd added an RBI double and Justin Morneau had two hits and scored twice.

On Alvarez, Hurdle said: "He's turned into a major league run producer and a threat every time he walks up there."

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Right-hander Lance Lynn showed a great curveball at times, but his location was off otherwise. In 4 1/3 innings, he allowed five runs, seven hits and three walks — including the intentional one to Mercer that seemed to get him out of rhythm.

"It was a bad game," Lynn said. "I made four bad pitches for four extra-base hits. When I made a mistake with the fastball, they were ready for it."

Cards skipper Mike Matheny made several decisions that did not work out:

• Starting Lynn

• Leaving him in the game for as long as he did

• Pitching around Mercer in the second inning with a tie score

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Just one? Walking the man in front of Cole was costly, as was Cole's RBI single, but his strikeout of Beltran quashed what could have been a Cardinals rally. Beltran argued with plate umpire Wally Bell, but he took a sizzling 98 mph fastball with movement on the inside corner.

"He made a good pitch on me, there's no doubt about that," Beltran said. "What can I say? He just threw a pitch that I wasn't expecting."

Lynn has a 6.94 ERA in three career postseason starts.

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• The arrival of Gerrit Cole.

• Should Michael Wacha or Shelby Miller have started Game 2 instead?

• Can the Pirates take two more games and win a playoff series for the first time since the 1979 World Series?

After a day off, the scene shifts to PNC Park for Game 3 on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET, with right-hander Joe Kelly going for St. Louis against left-hander Francisco Liriano. Including the NL wild card, the Pirates have 51 victories at home this season. The Pirates went 7-3 against the Cards at PNC.

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