The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

October 2, 2013

Pirates move on to NLDS after beating Reds 6-2

(Continued)

"It's unfortunately been a bit like déjà vu," first baseman Joey Votto said. "Really disappointing."

Baker backed Cueto before the game, saying his ace "thrives on this environment." Maybe, but the right-hander never looked comfortable at a place where he has been nearly unhittable.

Cueto, who came in 8-2 at the ballpark by the Allegheny River, even lost his grip on the ball while standing on the mound as the crowd serenaded him.

A moment later, he lost his grip on the game.

Martin's 405-foot shot to left-center gave Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead and all the momentum Liriano would require.

Signed on the cheap in the offseason after a mediocre 2012 split between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox, Liriano has been reborn in Pittsburgh. He went 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA during the regular season, his devastating slider nearly unhittable against left-handers.

The Reds proved no match. Votto went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. Jay Bruce produced an RBI single in the fourth but Cincinnati never really threatened on a night playoff baseball officially returned to Pittsburgh.

"It's definitely a good feeling," Martin said, "but we've still got work to do."

Shin-Soo Choo homered in the eighth, a drive to right field that was upheld by video review. It did little more than slightly delay a party 7,660 days in the making.

Pittsburgh's 94-win regular season reignited a relationship sullied by years of mismanagement and miserable play. When the gates opened two hours before the first pitch, fans — most of them dressed in black at the urging of McCutchen, an MVP candidate — sprinted to their seats in anticipation of the club's first postseason game since Atlanta's Sid Bream slid into home ahead of Barry Bonds' throw in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 1992 National League championship series.

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