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National League Division Series Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, October 6th (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Cardinals (1-1) at Pittsburgh Pirates (2-1), 4:37 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: St. Louis - Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69) Pittsburgh - Francisco Liriano (16-8, 3.02)

(SportsNetwork.com) - It should be a wild scene in Pittsburgh on Sunday when the National League Division Series shifts to PNC Park for a pivotal Game 3 between the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals.

St. Louis routed the upstart Pirates in Game 1, but Pittsburgh bounced back in a big way with a 7-1 win in Game 2 to even the best-of-five series and steal home-field advantage.

Now the Bucs, who of course are back in the postseason for the first time since 1992, have all the momentum and will have their ace on the mound in Francisco Liriano, who was magnificent against the Cardinals this season, going 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA in three starts.

He also held them to a .149 average.

Liriano also enjoyed his time pitching in the Steel City, as he was one of the best home pitchers in the league this season, posting a 9-1 mark with a 1.43 ERA in 12 starts at PNC after beating Cincinnati in Tuesday's wild card contest.

"I don't know what to say," Liriano said when asked about his success at PNC. "I think I've been able to execute pitches here, and the guys behind me make some great plays for me here."

Liriano resurrected his career with Pittsburgh this past season and was 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA this season.

"I know Liriano has pitched great and all that, but you never know," said veteran Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran. "Starters sometimes don't feel it, and all of a sudden, they start putting balls down the middle and the other team takes advantage of it. I know they're hoping for him to pitch a good game, and we're hoping he throws some pitches right down the middle."

Pittsburgh rookie Gerrit Cole was certainly feeling it on Friday, as he gave up one run on two hits while striking out five for the Pirates, who bounced back from a 9-1 loss in Game 1 on Thursday.

"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," said Pedro Alvarez, who has homered in each of the first two games.

Alvarez, who tied for the NL lead in home runs, is the first Pirate to homer in back-to-back playoff games since Willie Stargell in the 1974 NLCS.

"Nothing better than Pedro getting his bat running hot right away," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There is not a park he can't hit it out of. He can drive it out from line to line. He misses balls and they carry over the fence."

With six home runs this postseason, the Pirates already have the third most for any October run in team history, behind 1971 (13) and '79 (seven).

Yadier Molina hit a solo homer in the loss for the Cardinals, who saw starter Lance Lynn (0-1) allow five runs on seven hits over 4 1/3 innings.

"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."

Getting the call for the Cardinals on Sunday will be right-hander Joe Kelly, who was 10-5 this season with a 3.08 ERA. Kelly, though, pitched to a 2.69 ERA in his 15 starts, which saw St. Louis go a remarkable 12-3.

"It's going to be fun. I'm going to face a good pitcher in Liriano," Kelly said.

Kelly also worked at least five innings in each of his last 15 outings and beat the Pirates twice in September.

"That's what playoff baseball is all about," said Kelly, who pitched to a 2.35 ERA in seven relief appearances in last year's postseason. "You dream about it as a little kid. It's going to be a great time. The atmosphere is going to be electric, obviously and I think our side is looking forward to it."

Pittsburgh narrowly won the season series, 10-9, but lost six of nine in St. Louis.

10/06 10:16:28 ET

TV
  • NCAA: Division II Championship: Indiana (Pa.) vs. Florida Southern

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NCAAT: Louisville v. Michigan State

    Tomorrow at 2:20 am on WRAL-TV

  • NCAAT: Duke v. Gonzaga

    Tomorrow at 5:05 pm on WRAL-TV

Scoreboard
Local
Final
WAS 110
CHA 107
Final
LOU 75
NCSU 65
Final
DUKE 63
UTAH 57
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
ATL
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NJD
 
Final
ATL 4
BOS 2
Final
STL 5
NYM 4
Final
PHI 0
NYY 10
Final
MIN 2
PIT 4
Final
WAS 1
STL 1
4th
BAL 0
TAM 0
 
Final
TOR 4
DET 1
Final
CHC 6
CWS 3
Final
OAK 7
TEX 6
Final
ANA 2
ARI 7
Final
ARI 3
CLE 2
6:05pm Friday
HOU 0
MIA 0
 
Final
KAN 5
SEA 1
Final
SDP 7
COL 5
Final
CIN 6
MIL 8
Final
LOS 4
SFG 8
1:05pm Today
NYY
BAL
 
1:05pm Today
TAM
BOS
 
1:05pm Today
MIA
HOU
 
1:05pm Today
MIN
PHI
 
1:05pm Today
DET
STL
 
1:05pm Today
PIT
TOR
 
1:07pm Today
TOR
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
WAS
 
4:05pm Today
CIN
CHC
 
4:05pm Today
MIL
CLE
 
4:05pm Today
CHC
COL
 
4:05pm Today
CWS
OAK
 
4:05pm Today
TEX
SDP
 
4:05pm Today
SEA
SFG
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
KAN
 
4:10pm Today
ANA
LOS
 
Final
WAS 110
CHA 107
Final
ORL 97
DET 111
Final
PHI 98
LAC 119
Final
NYK 92
BOS 96
Final
BRK 106
CLE 98
Final
TOR 94
LAL 83
Final
ATL 99
MIA 86
Final
MEM 84
GSW 107
Final
HOU 120
MIN 110
Final
NOP 102
SAC 88
Final
SAN 94
DAL 76
Final
DEN 107
UTA 91
Final
PHO 81
POR 87
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
ATL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
MIL
GSW
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
OKC
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
DEN
 
Final
GONZ 74
UCLA 62
Final
LOU 75
NCSU 65
Final
DUKE 63
UTAH 57
Final
NARZ 74
KSU 73
Final
OKLA 58
MSU 62
6:09pm Tonight
WISC
ARZ
 
7:30pm Tonight
YALE
CAN
 
8:49pm Tonight
KENT
ND
 
Final
MIN 4
CAL 2
Final
CHI 2
CLB 5
Final
EDM 4
DAL 0
12:30pm Today
WAS
NAS
 
1:00pm Today
NYI
ANA
 
1:00pm Today
PIT
ARI
 
1:00pm Today
BOS
NYR
 
1:00pm Today
PHI
SJS
 
2:00pm Today
DET
TAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
MON
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NJD
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
CLB
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
LOS
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
BUF
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
DAL