Pirates move to next round

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates played a superb game from start to finish Tuesday night to ensure that the first playoff game ever at PNC Park won’t be the last of the 2013 season.

On an electric and memorable evening in front of a record crowd of 40,487, the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds, 6-2, in the National League wild-card game. With the winner moving on and the loser going home, the Bucs continued their recent dominance of the Reds by beating them for the fourth time in five days.

“The city’s been waiting a long time for it,” said catcher Russell Martin, who hit two home runs.

The Pirates now move on to the NL Divisional Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. The best-of-five series begins Thursday at 5 p.m. in St. Louis, and Game 2 will be there Friday at 1 p.m.

PNC Park will host Games 3 and 4 Sunday and Monday, with the times yet to be determined. Game 5, if necessary, would be back in St. Louis on Wednesday.

The Pirates electrified the already boisterous PNC Park crowd with two home runs in the second inning for a 2-0 lead. Marlon Byrd hit the first, Martin the second, and the Bucs never looked back.

“Never. Never,” Byrd said when asked if he’s ever seen a crowd make so big of an impact. “What they were doing tonight was awesome.”

Ace starting pitcher Francisco Liriano held the Reds to one run over seven innings, while the Pirates’ bats kept doing damage.

Martin hit another homer in the seventh inning to cap the Bucs’ scoring and become just the second Pirate to hit two long balls in a postseason game (Bob Robertson hit three in a 1971 NL Championship Series game).

“I’m so grateful for these fans,” closer Jason Grilli said during the post-game champagne celebration. “I think every guy in this room is.”