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Pirates at home with momentum, Liriano on mound

The SportsXchange

Momentum is a fickle beast.

The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals enter Game 3 of the National League Division Series tied at one, but after Friday's 7-1 Pirates win, the momentum has swung 180 degrees.

The Cardinals whipped the Pirates 9-1 in the opener on Thursday and seemed firmly in control based on their vast experience in the postseason.

But the Pirates responded with a whipping of their own on Friday and appear in the driver's seat with ace Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02 ERA in the regular season) facing Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69) on Sunday in the first of two games at PNC Park.

"We didn't lose sight of the fact that we had an opportunity today," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We moved upon it. We've done this before. This does not surprise us. We beat a good team. We played good baseball. You play good baseball, you got a chance to win. We didn't play good baseball last time. We had no shot to win.

"And now we are getting to back to our house, which has been a good place for us to play. And we'll have Liriano on the mound. So from that standpoint, we're set up as strong as we could want to be set up for Game 3."

"Obviously, to fall behind 2-0 to a team like the Cardinals is not good," Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez said. "(Friday) was a huge victory for us."

Now the Cardinals have to find a way to steal the momentum back if they are going to advance against their NL Central rivals.

"Every time we come here, it seems like they have been pitching good against us and we haven't been able to do anything against them," Cards slugger Carlos Beltran said. "Every time we come here we face Liriano, and Liriano has been able to pitch good against us."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny likes his team's chances, however.

"We've had some matchups with some guys that have had success against us in the past," Matheny said, "and they're able to get past what the projections are and just play the game. So that's what I'll be encouraging."
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