After dropping the first game of the NLDS to St. Louis, the Pittsburgh Pirates answered back in a big way on Friday with a 7-1 victory to even the series. Rookie starter Gerrit Cole led the charge with six sparkling innings, Pedro Alvarez and Starling Marte each homered, and the Cardinals' defense provided a little bit of help as well.
Pittsburgh got on the board early against St. Louis starter Lance Lynn. With one out in the second, Alvarez hit a ground-rule just out of the reach of center fielder Jon Jay. Lynn intentionally walked Jordy Mercer in order to face Cole, and then immediately regretted that decision when the pitcher singled to drive in a run.
The lead grew in the third inning, once again thanks to Alvarez. With two out and Justin Morneau on first base, the slugger drilled a two-run home run to center to make it 3-0 Pirates.
Lynn worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning, but ran into more trouble in the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Morneau and Marlon Byrd scored another run, and Alvarez drew a walk to end Lynn's day. Seth Maness came on in relief and allowed Byrd to score on a single by Russell Martin, but then escaped the jam without any further damage. Although Lynn managed to strike out six Pirates in 4⅓ innings of work, he clearly didn't have it Friday -- when Pittsburgh did make contact, the ball tended to go a long way.
Cole, on the other hand, was on top of his game. The rookie kept St. Louis in check for six innings in his postseason debut, striking out five batters and allowing just two hits and a walk. He retired 11 straight batters at one point before serving up a solo home run to Yadier Molina to lead off the fifth. That run was the only blemish on his otherwise pristine start, and it proved to be the only good news of the day for the Cardinals.
David Freese helped the Pirates add an insurance run in the seventh. Byrd led off by popping the ball up in the infield, but Freese let it drop behind him for a two-base error.
Byrd eventually came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Martin to make it 6-1. Marte added one more run in the eighth on a solo homer to push the lead to 7-1. Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli closed out the final two innings, and the Pirates notched their first win of the series.