NLDS – Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals

The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals played leapfrog atop the NL Central standings for most of the season's final three months. Now they’ll settle things once and for all in what figures to be a thrilling best-of-five NLDS.

— Mark Townsend

Pittsburgh Pirates watch for fly balls during batting practice before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Pittsburgh Pirates watch for fly balls during batting practice before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis
Pittsburgh Pirates watch for fly balls during batting practice before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle signs autographs before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle signs autographs before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle signs autographs before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher John Buck signs autographs before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher John Buck signs autographs before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher John Buck signs autographs before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hits infield practice before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hits infield practice before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hits infield practice before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Cardinals players warm up in Busch Stadium before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Cardinals players warm up in Busch Stadium before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis
St. Louis Cardinals players warm up in Busch Stadium before Game 5 of a National League baseball division series between the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, right, celebrates with teammates after a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, right, celebrates with teammates after a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, right, celebrates with teammates after a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez celebrates with teammates in the dugout after getting the Pirates' only hit of the day, a solo home run off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha in the eighth inning of Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals won 2-1 to even the best-of-five series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez celebrates with teammates in the dugout after getting the Pirates' only hit of the day, a solo home run off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha in the eighth inning of Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals won 2-1 to even the best-of-five series
Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez celebrates with teammates in the dugout after getting the Pirates' only hit of the day, a solo home run off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha in the eighth inning of Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals won 2-1 to even the best-of-five series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, right, gets a hug from manager Mike Matheny after a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of a National League division baseball series on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, right, gets a hug from manager Mike Matheny after a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of a National League division baseball series on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha, right, gets a hug from manager Mike Matheny after a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game 4 of a National League division baseball series on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hangs on to the center field wall after a two-run home run by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday in the sixth inning of Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hangs on to the center field wall after a two-run home run by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday in the sixth inning of Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hangs on to the center field wall after a two-run home run by St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday in the sixth inning of Game 4 of a National League baseball division series, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of Game 4 of a National League division baseball series on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of Game 4 of a National League division baseball series on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of Game 4 of a National League division baseball series on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates fans wave Jolly Roger flags during the introductions of the Pittsburgh Pirates before Game 4 of a National League baseball division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Pirates fans wave Jolly Roger flags during the introductions of the Pittsburgh Pirates before Game 4 of a National League baseball division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Pirates fans wave Jolly Roger flags during the introductions of the Pittsburgh Pirates before Game 4 of a National League baseball division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
A pair of Pittsburgh Pirates fans celebrate after the team defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3 to take a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A pair of Pittsburgh Pirates fans celebrate after the team defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3 to take a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series
A pair of Pittsburgh Pirates fans celebrate after the team defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3 to take a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates pinch runner Josh Harrison (5) scores from second behind St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on a single by Pedro Alvarez in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3, taking a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates pinch runner Josh Harrison (5) scores from second behind St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on a single by Pedro Alvarez in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3, taking a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series
Pittsburgh Pirates pinch runner Josh Harrison (5) scores from second behind St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina on a single by Pedro Alvarez in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3, taking a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League baseball division series as Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin looks on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . (AP Photo/Tom Puskar)
St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League baseball division series as Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin looks on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh
St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League baseball division series as Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin looks on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . (AP Photo/Tom Puskar)
A fan holds a giant poster photo of Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, left, as he bats in the fourth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
A fan holds a giant poster photo of Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, left, as he bats in the fourth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh
A fan holds a giant poster photo of Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez, left, as he bats in the fourth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano wipes his head with his wrapped pitching arm while sitting in the dugout in the fourth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano wipes his head with his wrapped pitching arm while sitting in the dugout in the fourth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano wipes his head with his wrapped pitching arm while sitting in the dugout in the fourth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The St. Louis Cardinals line up on the first base line during the introductions for Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh , PA (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
The St. Louis Cardinals line up on the first base line during the introductions for Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh , PA
The St. Louis Cardinals line up on the first base line during the introductions for Game 3 of a National League division baseball series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013 in Pittsburgh , PA (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Marlon Byrd, top right, hits a single to drive in Andrew McCutchen off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Joe Kelly, bottom, in the first inning of game 3 of a National League baseball division series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is at left. (AP Photo/Tom Puskar)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Marlon Byrd, top right, hits a single to drive in Andrew McCutchen off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Joe Kelly, bottom, in the first inning of game 3 of a National League baseball division series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is at left
Pittsburgh Pirates' Marlon Byrd, top right, hits a single to drive in Andrew McCutchen off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Joe Kelly, bottom, in the first inning of game 3 of a National League baseball division series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is at left. (AP Photo/Tom Puskar)
The city skyline is seen beyohnd the outfield walls of PNC Park as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan waves a Jolly Roger flag while the players are introduced before game 3 of a National League baseball division series between Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
The city skyline is seen beyohnd the outfield walls of PNC Park as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan waves a Jolly Roger flag while the players are introduced before game 3 of a National League baseball division series between Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh
The city skyline is seen beyohnd the outfield walls of PNC Park as a Pittsburgh Pirates fan waves a Jolly Roger flag while the players are introduced before game 3 of a National League baseball division series between Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh . (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso (33) is tagged out along the first baseline by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson in the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso (33) is tagged out along the first baseline by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson in the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis
St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso (33) is tagged out along the first baseline by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson in the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday has words for home plate umpire Wally Bell after Holliday was called out on strikes in the fourth inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday has words for home plate umpire Wally Bell after Holliday was called out on strikes in the fourth inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis
St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday has words for home plate umpire Wally Bell after Holliday was called out on strikes in the fourth inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Marlon Byrd scores on a sacrifice fly by Russell Martin in the seventh inning of Game 2 in baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Marlon Byrd scores on a sacrifice fly by Russell Martin in the seventh inning of Game 2 in baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis
Pittsburgh Pirates' Marlon Byrd scores on a sacrifice fly by Russell Martin in the seventh inning of Game 2 in baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso, right, is tagged out along the first baseline by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) in the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso, right, is tagged out along the first baseline by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) in the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis
St. Louis Cardinals' Daniel Descalso, right, is tagged out along the first baseline by Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson (44) in the seventh inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League division series on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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