It has been a long 21 years for Pirates fans, but they can now celebrate both their first winning season and their first playoff victory in over two decades. Francisco Liriano carried the team with stellar pitching as he pitched seven innings of four-hit ball, keeping the Reds potent offense on the ropes.
Unfortunately, Zack Cozart could not come up with as stellar of a defensive play. The Reds' shortstop couldn't handle a sharp Marlon Byrd grounder, allowing Andrew McCutchen to move from first to third and later score on a sacrifice fly. Cozart was charged with a tough error on the play:
Even the umpires helped the Pirates out, though perhaps not in the way you would expect. Starling Marte hit a screeching double down the left field line that landed just fair in the fourth inning. The ball then struck the outfield ump and caromed towards the stands. That was all it took to knock Reds' starter Johnny Cueto out of the game.
Marte came around to score when Neil Walker doubled. Walker scored later in the inning as the Pirates took a 5-1 lead.
Russell Martin joined elite company in the seventh inning as he launched another home run in the seventh inning to push the lead to 6-1. That homer made Martin the first NL catcher since 1986 to hit two home runs in a playoff game.
The Martin home run clinched the win for the Pirates as they now move on to a National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. That could be a tough matchup for the Pirates, but for one night, at least, they can celebrate.