The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 2, 2013

Pirates move on to NLDS after beating Reds 6-2

— PITTSBURGH (AP) — Andrew McCutchen was in mid-answer when teammate A.J. Burnett stuck a bottle of champagne inside the jersey of the star Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder and turned it upside down.

"Feels good," McCutchen said with a laugh as the bottle emptied, further drenching his already soaked uniform. "I could get used to this."

So could the city he plays in.

After an absence of two decades, playoff baseball is back in Pittsburgh. And it's not going anywhere for a while.

The Pirates are heading to St. Louis for the NL division series after drumming the Cincinnati Reds 6-2 in the NL wild-card game on Tuesday night, nine innings of dominance that also served as a coming out party for a franchise eager to escape a generation of misery.

"There are mile markers along the road to get to the place you want to get to," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's nobody in there that doesn't want to win the World Championship for the Pirates organization."

Pittsburgh is one step closer after dispatching the Reds. The NL Central champion Cardinals await. A.J. Burnett will start for the Pirates against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright in Game 1 on Thursday.

"They know us, we know them," McCutchen said. "It's going to be a battle. We want it to be a battle."

At least the Cardinals likely won't face Liriano until Game 3 at the earliest, though Liriano's teammates believe his performance set the tone for what they hope is an extended October stay.

The veteran left-hander showed up at the park on Tuesday in a suit with his suitcase packed. The message was simple: the season wasn't over yet.

"He had the expectancy to win," McCutchen said. "When he showed up with his suit on, that got me hyped up."

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