User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Betting Tools

Pirates beat Reds for home-field advantage

CINCINNATI (AP) - Hundreds of Pirates fans stood, twirled their towels and chanted ``Let's Go Bucs!'' as Jay Bruce hit a grounder for the final out, setting up a playoff game in Pittsburgh.

Baseball, this time.

Neil Walker hit two of Pittsburgh's six homers - its biggest power surge in six years - and the Pirates clinched home-field advantage for the NL's wild card playoff game by beating the Cincinnati Reds 8-3 Saturday.

Pittsburgh will host the Reds on Tuesday night in the Pirates' first playoff appearance in 21 years. Pittsburgh went 50-31 at PNC Park, the third-best home record in the NL, and wanted to make that long-awaited playoff return at home.

They got what they wanted. The postseason will start at PNC Park.

``It's going to be a really exciting time,'' Walker said. ``Something a lot of people haven't experienced with Pirate baseball. I imagine it's going to be Steeler-esque on Tuesday.''

The Reds will go with Johnny Cueto (5-2) in the one-game playoff against left-hander Francisco Liriano (16-8). Mat Latos was on schedule to start for Cincinnati, but manager Dusty Baker said he's developed a sore arm.

The Pirates won five of nine games against the Reds at PNC Park this season.

``The important thing for me is getting the guys home and playing in a park where we won 50 games and giving our fans a taste of postseason baseball,'' manager Clint Hurdle said.

Pittsburgh hit five homers off Bronson Arroyo (14-12), who had never given up that many in a game in his career. Walker homered twice off the right-hander, Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez also hit solo homers, and Marlon Byrd had a two-run shot that ended Arroyo's outing in the fifth and made it 6-3.

Latos isn't the only Reds starter who's hurting. Arroyo said his back started bothering him Saturday.

``It locked up right before the game,'' Arroyo said. ``I was in the tunnel. It was like I was being stabbed in the ribs and I couldn't swivel from side to side.

``I don't think it had much to do with the game. You can't leave balls in up the zone in this ballpark against that lineup and get away with it.''

Prospect Andrew Lambo hit his first homer off Logan Ondrusek, the first time the Pirates had six in a game since Aug. 22, 2007 at Colorado.

Pirates starter Charlie Morton also struggled, leaving with one out and the bases loaded in the fifth. Vin Mazzaro (8-2) fanned Zack Cozart and retired Ryan Hanigan on a fly ball as the slumping Reds left the bases loaded for the second time in the game.

Cincinnati stranded 11 runners overall.

Both teams already had clinched wild-card berths heading into their weekend series. Whoever took it would host the one-game showdown. Pittsburgh made quick work of it, winning the opener 4-1 on Friday night and then the second game, too.

``Better to be home than on the road,'' McCutchen said. ``Today showed how bad we wanted to go home. We answered in a big way.''

The Ohio River rivals have met five times in the playoffs - 1970, 1972, 1975, 1979 and 1990, when the Reds won their last World Series title. The Reds are 13-7 against the Pirates in the postseason. Pittsburgh has played the Reds more than any other team in the playoffs.

The Reds have gone into a deep slump at a very bad time. They've lost four in a row since clinching a playoff spot with a 3-2 win over the Mets on Monday night, scoring a total of six runs.

They were at it again in the first inning on Saturday, leaving the bases loaded when Todd Frazier flied out.

Walker and McCutchen hit back-to-back homers in the third for a 2-0 lead. Brandon Phillips had an RBI single and Jay Bruce followed with a two-run double for a 3-2 lead in the third, Cincinnati's first lead since Monday.

And it didn't last long.

Alvarez led off the fourth inning with a first-pitch homer, tying it at 3. Alvarez's 36th homer gave him 100 RBIs. Walker hit his career-high 16th homer in the fifth inning - the first multihomer game of his career - and Byrd's two-run shot ended Arroyo's outing. Walker has seven homers in September.

Lambo's pinch-hit homer let the Pirates tie the record for most by a visiting team at Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003.

Notes: Walker has homered in five of his last nine games. ... Alvarez is the first Pirates third baseman to drive in 100 runs since Aramis Ramirez drove in 110 in 2001. His 36 homers are a club record for a third baseman. ... Byrd had three hits for the second straight game. ... Philips fouled a pitch off his left shin in the fifth inning, raising a welt. He singled and left for a runner. X-rays were negative. ... Joey Votto walked three times, moving him ahead of Joe Morgan's previous club record for a season. Votto has walked 135 times.


Follow Joe Kay on Twitter:

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2016
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

News: 2016 Playoff Results
Cubs beat Dodgers 8-4, lead NLCS 3-2
Dodgers save Kershaw for Game 6, need him
Cleveland's fairytale year gets better
Seattle Mariners bring back entire staff
Scully back at Dodger Stadium as spectator
Coast Guard to look at Fernandez crash
Nationals bring back all 7 coaches
'Wild Thing' offers to throw first pitch
Why Buy Picks From
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
10-2 +810 L12, +4,813 This Year
6-2 +565 Picks, 9-4 +699 G-Plays
6-2 +406 L8, 19-8 +1,116 Streak
7-3 Postseason Over/Unders
4-1 Last 5 MLB Selections
3-0 L3, 11-3 +864 Guarantees
13-6, +804 Last 19 G-Plays
7-3 +500 L7 Days, 6-1 L7 G-Plays
3-1, +215 L4 Playoff Picks
+8,555 Net Profits This Year
11-4, +659 Last 15 Streak
16-7 L23 G-Plays, +3,378 TY
10-5 Record Last 15 Totals
NBA Pro Basketball Expert Sports Picks
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 8555
Jim Feist + 4813
John Fisher + 3378
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2191
Kevin Rogers + 1475
Jim Feist + 1372
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 3685
Jim Feist + 1556
John Fisher + 1515
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Jim Feist + 3495
Antony Dinero + 2733
Micah Roberts + 2459
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3047
Micah Roberts + 2679
James Manos + 2602
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Micah Roberts + 2434
Mark Franco + 1570
Bill Marzano + 1455
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership