Rookie pitcher also scores a run in his side’s big win over St Louis.
Rookie Gerrit Cole pitched six strong innings and knocked in a run as the Pittsburgh Pirates pounded St. Louis 7-1 to level their Major League Baseball playoff series.
Cole, who went 4-0 in September with a 1.69 earned-run average in five starts, surrendered one run on two hits while striking out five for the Pirates.
Pittsburgh wasted no time rebounding from a 9-1 loss Thursday to level the best-of-five National League series at 1-1.
“Well, anytime you can get a win, it’s huge. But obviously to fall behind 2-0 to a team like the Cardinals is no good. Today was a huge victory for us,” Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez said.
In a later game, the Atlanta Braves posted their first playoff win in three years by edging the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 to even their series at 1-1.
Francisco Liriano will start for Pittsburgh and Joe Kelly will pitch for St. Louis in game three on Sunday at Pittsburgh.
Alvarez and Starling Marte clubbed home runs for the Pirates, who are in the postseason for the first time since 1992. Russell Martin drove in two runs while Marlon Byrd drove in a run and scored twice.
Yadier Molina belted a home run and starting pitcher Lance Lynn allow five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings for St. Louis.
“Well, I thought Lance did a pretty nice job early,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
“The only time he got into trouble is when he didn’t control the counts. I thought he established his off-speed pitches as well as we’ve seen him do that all season long. But when we got into disadvantaged counts, it was a completely different at-bat. So that was pretty consistent.”
The Pirates took a 3-0 lead on Alvarez’s home run blast over the wall in the third. Justin Morneau singled and scored on Alvarez’s two-out centerfield shot.
Pittsburgh added two more runs in the fifth. Morneau doubled to left-centerfield and rushed home on Byrd’s ground-rule double. Alvarez walked before Seth Maness took over on the mound for Lynn. Martin welcomed Maness with an RBI single to left field.
Cole had retired 11 straight St. Louis batters before Molina halted the streak with a leadoff homer in the bottom of the fifth.
“I mean, they’re a really tough offense. They don’t strike out a whole lot, and they work counts and pick times to take and pick times to ambush,” Cole said. “So it’s critical just to make quality pitches early, not only to get ahead, but to minimize damage.”
In Atlanta, starter Mike Minor threw 97 pitches in a terrific playoff debut and the bullpen did the rest as the Braves squeaked by the Dodgers in front of a crowd of 48,966.
Atlanta needed a shutdown ace on the mound and Minor provided those ingredients before the bullpen scratched together the final outs.
“We played good defense, Mike was outstanding,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He gave us a great opportunity to win the game. Hopefully, we’ll carry a little bit of momentum into L.A.”
Minor surrendered one run in 6 1/3 innings and Jason Heyward provided insurance with a two-run single in the seventh for the Braves, whose 56-25 home record this season was the best in the major leagues.
Hanley Ramirez’s two-run homer in the eighth got the Dodgers within a run, but Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel came on for a four-out save.
Kimbrel walked two in the ninth, but Gerald Laird threw out pinch-runner Dee Gordon and Kimbrel struck out Carl Crawford with a runner on first to end the game.
Los Angeles pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts in a 6-1 win in game one on Thursday, including 12 by starter Clayton Kershaw.
Game three is Sunday in Los Angeles with Atlanta right-hander Julio Teheran going against South Korean rookie left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin for the Dodgers.