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October 5, 2013

Pirates strike back, pull even

Braves, Red Sox also pick up division series wins.

Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates played like veterans.

Cole gave up two hits in six dominant innings and had an RBI in his postseason debut, Pedro Alvarez homered for the second straight day and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 Friday to even their NL division series at a game apiece.

After taking advantage of several Cardinals mistakes, the Pirates head home for Game 3 on Sunday. Wild-card game winner Francisco Liriano faces Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly.

Roles were reversed from the Cardinals’ 9-1 win in the opener, with the Pirates showing poise in their first postseason appearance since 1992 and St. Louis looking tentative in the field.

Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, who hasn’t lasted long enough to qualify for the victory in any of his three career postseason starts, yielded five runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings.

He found trouble early. Alvarez doubled in the second on a fly ball that was misjudged by center fielder Jon Jay and he scored on Cole’s single to put the Pirates ahead — eighth-place hitter Jordy Mercer was walked intentionally ahead of Cole. Alvarez then hit a 418-foot two-run homer in the third.

Third baseman David Freese dropped Marlon Byrd’s pop fly for an error in gusting wind in the seventh inning, leading to a run.

Cole faced the Cardinals for the first time and left most of them shaking their heads, striking out five and walking one. After allowing Carlos Beltran’s double with one out in the first, he retired 11 straight before Yadier Molina led off the fifth with his third career postseason homer.

BRAVES 4, DODGERS 3

Mike Minor pitched six strong innings, Jason Heyward had a two-run single and the Atlanta Braves held on for a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, evening the NL division series at one game apiece.

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