BY THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
---- — 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.
The Braves turned three double plays, the most important coming to end a Dodgers threat in the seventh with Atlanta clinging to a 2-1 lead. Luis Avilan got it started by backhanding Carl Crawford’s grounder to the mound.
Hanley Ramirez drove in all three Dodgers runs with a first-inning double and a two-run homer in the eighth, just clearing the wall after a one-handed swing off David Carpenter.
Craig Kimbrel walked two in the ninth but fanned Crawford for the save. Backup catcher Gerald Laird helped, too, throwing out pinch-runner Dee Gordon in a close play at second base.
RED SOX 12, RAYS 2
Jon Lester allowed three hits in 7 2/3 innings and the Boston Red Sox took advantage of poor Tampa Bay defense in a five-run fourth to beat the Rays 12-2 in Game 1 of the AL division series.
Lester gave up a pair of solo homers into the Monster Seats, but he got the lead back when the Rays fell apart in the fourth. One ball fell between two outfielders, another took a bad hop off the Green Monster standings, one batter reached safely on a dropped third strike and another when pitcher Matt Moore was slow to cover first.
By the time it was over, the Red Sox were ahead 5-2 and on their way to the early lead in the best-of-five series.