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Pirates plan more PNC parties

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- One thing is certain for the Pittsburgh Pirates for however long they remain in the postseason: They will enjoy a big home-field advantage in a sport in which playing at home usually doesn't make a big difference.

The Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 Tuesday night in the National League wild-card game at PNC Park, and all everyone was talking about afterward was how loud it was in the 12-year-old ballpark.

The victory sends the Pirates to St. Louis, where A.J. Burnett takes the ball for Game 1 of the National League Division Series against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. By first pitch Thursday, the fever-pitch echo in downtown Pittsburgh should have died down.

Pirates fans waited since 1992 to see a postseason game, and those 21 years of pent-up frustration -- fueled by 20 consecutive losing seasons until this year -- all came out at once.

"I was at Yankee Stadium in college (at Seton Hall) and saw some crowds, and saw a great crowd at the Metrodome once, but this was unbelievable," closer Jason Grilli said. "This is definitely a baseball town."

It is this month, anyway.

The Pirates, long the No. 3 team in a three-team market, are pushing the Steelers and Penguins to the background. The Steelers are an afterthought at 0-4, and the Penguins, despite being Stanley Cup contenders, aren't generating much buzz as they get set to open their season Wednesday night.

The Pirates, meanwhile, are the talk of the town.

"This is still ringing in my ears," manager Clint Hurdle said 15 minutes after the game. "When we took the field for the opening announcements, they let it rip. The park showed up tonight. Our fan base showed up tonight. That rotunda (in left field) was jammed. And they kept it going all night long.

"If our city ever thinks they don't make a difference, all they got to do is watch the tape from tonight's game. We felt confident going in. They pushed it forward even more from start to finish of that game. Very special evening personally, obviously for everybody involved and tied to this."

The Pirates are assured of least one more home game, Sunday, when they host the Cardinals in Game 3 of the best-of-five NLDS.
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