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National League Division Series Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (1-0) at St. Louis Cardinals (0-0), 5:07 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - A.J. Burnett (10-11, 3.30) St. Louis - Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94)

(SportsNetwork.com) - It's been 21 long years since the Pittsburgh Pirates have been in this position. Who can blame them for wanting to stick around a little longer?

Pittsburgh will continue its first postseason run since 1992 on Thursday when they start the best-of-five National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

"We know the Cardinals and they know us; there won't be any secrets," Pirates second baseman Neil Walker said.

Of course, these teams are no stranger to one another, having played 19 times in the regular season. In fact from June 21 on, it was essentially a two-horse race for bragging rights in the NL Central before St. Louis eventually pulled away from Pittsburgh and captured its first division title since 2009 by virtue of a league-best 97-65 mark.

So, the Pirates had to settle for a wild card spot, despite finishing above .500 (94-68) for the first time since that 1992 season. Nobody in the Steel City was complaining, though, as they hadn't experienced postseason baseball since Barry Bonds was roaming the outfield at Three Rivers Stadium.

And Pittsburgh rewarded its fans on Tuesday, as Francisco Liriano fired seven innings of one-run ball and Russell Martin cracked a pair of solo home runs in the Pirates' 6-2 win over Cincinnati in the NL wild card game.

"We didn't talk about one and done, we talked about one and run," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Win one and run to St. Louis."

Pittsburgh had five All-Stars at this year's Midsummer Classic, but none shined brighter than Andrew McCutchen, who continued to state his case as one of the best young players in the game.

McCutchen hit .317 with 21 home runs, 84 RBI, 27 stolen bases, a .404 on-base percentage and .508 slugging percentage in 157 games. He became just the fourth major league center fielder since 1947 to have consecutive seasons of hitting .300 with a .400 slugging percentage and .500 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, joining Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Ken Griffey Jr.

Veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett will get the call for the Bucs in Game 1. Burnett was only 10-11 this season, but pitched to a 3.03 ERA and is no stranger to postseason baseball.

"It means a lot," Burnett said about getting the ball for Game 1. "I wouldn't want it any other way. They've come a long way, these men in here. Step 2 was tonight. We have a lot of work still to be done, a lot of games to be played. It was a great win, a great step. Now we have to get ready for another series."

Burnett has pitched to a 5.08 ERA in seven postseason games, but is 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his two Division Series outings.

While Pittsburgh may be getting its first taste of postseason action since 1992, St. Louis is holding court in October for the third straight year and for the 10th time in the last 14 seasons.

The Cardinals have won four playoff series in the past two seasons and have claimed two World Series titles in the past seven years.

Amazingly, Mike Matheny's team keeps chugging along no matter what obstacles seem to be thrown their way. The Cardinals also enter the postseason hot, having won their last six games and 10 of the last 12 in the regular season.

McCutchen may be the NL frontrunner for an MVP, but the Cards have a pair of candidates as well in catcher Yadier Molina and second baseman Matt Carpenter.

In addition to being the best defensive catcher in the game, Molina has also become a more than capable bat in the lineup. This year, he hit .319 and drove in 80 runs. Carpenter was a real surprise, though, as the rookie earned an All-Star berth, hitting .318, while scoring a major league-best 126 runs.

"I don't know where we'd be without him -- having that leadoff hitter and having the kind of season that he's having and what he's done defensively," Matheny said of Carpenter. "It's just off the charts, as far as how good he has been and how much he's proven just what a solid baseball player he is -- no matter where we put him."

The key for St. Louis will be jumping out in front on a hot Pirates team that seems to be gaining momentum by the day. And who better to do just that in Game 1 than NL wins leader Adam Wainwright, who won 19 games this season and pitched to a 3.00 ERA in three starts versus the Pirates.

Wainwright was 4-0 in his final five starts, working seven or more innings in all of them except for a tuneup his last time out.

"All in all, a Cy Young-caliber season," Matheny said. "We're not afraid to put him on the mound against anybody."

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

10/03 10:23:18 ET

  • PGA: AT&T Byron Nelson Championship

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
TEX 3
CLE 12
Final
COL 6
CIN 4
Final
MIA 2
PIT 5
Final
CWS 5
TOR 3
Final
KAN 2
NYY 4
Final
BOS 4
MIN 6
Final
PHI 0
NYM 7
Final
SEA 3
TAM 0
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
DET 3
OAK 2
Final
HOU 4
BAL 5
Final
WAS 3
CHC 0
Final
ARI 3
STL 4
Final
SDP 5
ANA 4
Final
ATL 3
LOS 2
1:05pm Today
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Today
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Tonight
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Tonight
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Tonight
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Tonight
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Tonight
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Tonight
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
7:05pm Monday
TOR
WAS
 
7:10pm Monday
CHC
MIA
 
7:10pm Monday
MIN
BOS
 
8:10pm Monday
BAL
HOU
 
8:10pm Monday
MIL
STL
 
8:40pm Monday
LOS
COL
 
9:40pm Monday
ATL
ARI
 
10:05pm Monday
TAM
ANA
 
10:10pm Monday
NYM
SDP
 
10:10pm Monday
NYY
SEA
 
10:15pm Monday
PIT
SFG
 
Final
HOU 90
GSW 104
Final
ANA 2
CHI 5
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR