Pirates win Game 2 7-1 and tie up NLDS with Cardinals
Cole's big day actually stared at the plate. In the 2nd inning, Cole took advantage of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny's decision to intentionally walk the number 8 hitter. With two on and two out, Cole hit this single up the middle to score Pedro Alvarez and put the Pirates up 1-0.
Alvarez had gotten on with a double, and that was only the start of a great day for him. In the third, he came up and crushed a 2 run homer over the center field fence.
That homer put Pittsburgh 3-0, and that was all Cole needed. He threw 6 innings and gave up just 2 hits, a first inning double off Playoff Master Carlos Beltran, and a solo homer to Yadier Molina in the 5th. In contrast, it was not Cardinals starter Lance Lynn's day. Those early runs put him in a hole early, and it got worse in the 5th. He gave up another run on a Marlon Byrd ground rule double, and after a walk of Alvarez, was pulled for Seth Maness. Maness was among the most prolific ground ball pitchers this season, and the Cardinals were hoping for a double play. They got the ground ball off the bat of Russell Martin, but it was hit between the shortstop and third baseman, scoring Byrd. Lynn's line was closed at 4.1 IP and 5 runs on 7 hits.
The bullpen finished the job for Pittsburgh in the final three innings, but that didn't fare much better for the Cardinals. The Pirates added another run in the 7th on a Martin sac fly, and another in the 8th on a Starling Marte home run.
With that, the AJ Burnett melt down becomes just a memory, as Pittsburgh gets an important split and two games at home. If the series does get to Game 5 though, the Pirates will have a decision to make between Burnett and Cole, who would be able to make that start on full rest. For now, it's time to concentrate on Game 3, which will be Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. Francisco Liriano takes the hill for the Pirates against Joe Kelly for the Cardinals.