Pirates NLDS notebook: It's a race to win two now

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The split in St. Louis essentially gives the Pirates a three-game series with the Cardinals starting with a 4:37 p.m. Game 3 today at PNC Park.

And as any franchise in any playoffs can attest: 1-1 is worlds better than 0-2.

"It's important, there is no doubt," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You get in these scenarios and you lose two games, you go anywhere, that's a tough hole to dig out of. We wanted to get a game. We got a game. And now we are getting back to our house, which has been a good place for us to play.

"And that we'll have [Francisco] Liriano on the mound. So from that standpoint we're set up as strong as we could want to be for Game 3."

Players went through a workout and batting practice Saturday at PNC Park and said returning home with the series tied gives them significant motivation.

"It does change things. We were lucky to come away with a win, a 1-1 split," right fielder Marlon Byrd said. "The goal we have now, one goal is try not to go back to St. Louis. And pack to get ready to go back on the road and get to the championship series."

Morneau trade finished

The Pirates finished off the Justin Morneau trade with the Minnesota Twins Saturday, sending RHP Duke Welker to the Twins as the player to be named later.

Morneau, who is hitting .308 in the playoffs with a walk and two runs scored, was acquired Aug. 31 for outfielder Alex Presley and a player to be named.

Welker was the Pirates' second-round selection in the 2007 amateur draft and spent the majority of 2013 with Class AAA Indianapolis. He made two appearances with the Pirates, throwing 11/3 scoreless innings.

Cole's bat

Gerrit Cole was far from a sure out in the regular season when he came to the plate for the Pirates. In 34 at-bats, he had seven hits and 5 RBIs with 14 strikeouts, posting a respectable .206 batting average.

Friday, he drove in the first run in the Pirates' 7-1 win in Game 2 with a grounder up the middle to give himself some early run support.

"It's a lift, and unfortunately we're kind of getting used to it because he's done it a couple of times this year," Hurdle said. "He's our best hitting pitcher. It's kind of funny, but I mean, every time before he goes up, he wants another pitcher, he wants to know the fastball movement, what the secondary pitch is. He takes it all in."

Cole's RBI single came against Lance Lynn.

"I kind of figured Lynn was going to come after me, so I just tried to stay short and stay up the middle," Cole said. "I don't know. I don't really have an approach up there, so I just see him and try not to break my bat."

Game 5 starter?

Hurdle declined to name a starter for a potential Game 5, should the series be extended and return to St. Louis for the decider.


First Published October 6, 2013 4:00 AM


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