Pirates-Cardinals Preview

After a one-sided victory in Game 1 of their NL division series,

Carlos Beltran and the St. Louis Cardinals are hungry for more.

Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, meanwhile, is hoping to

see his club even things up.

The Cardinals try to continue their recent domination against

the visiting Pirates, who turn to rookie Gerrit Cole in Game 2 of

this best-of-five set Friday.

Beltran hit a three-run homer to spark a seven-run third inning

as St. Louis cruised to a 9-1 win Thursday. David Freese added two

hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals, who have outscored Pittsburgh

42-13 in winning the last five meetings.

“To be able to get out on a good first step and play well today

I think is big for our guys confidence-wise,” manager Mike Matheny

said. “Gives us an opportunity to just take some momentum, and

momentum is big right now when you talk about a five-game

series.”

While the Pirates snapped a 21-year postseason drought and beat

Cincinnati 6-2 two nights earlier in the wild-card game, they

failed to get much going Thursday. Andrew McCutchen had two of the

team’s four hits and Pedro Alvarez homered.

“Game 164 was rough. That’s one of the things we’ve been real

good at is we don’t overcook things,” said Hurdle, whose team

committed three errors. “We knew coming in we had to find a way to

win a game here. … We’re down one game in the series, and we’ll

move on.”

The Pirates will try to bounce back behind Cole (10-7, 3.22

ERA), who posted a 1.38 ERA in winning his final four

regular-season starts

“It’s going to be unbelievable. You’re in enemy territory. The

place is going to be loud. It’s going to be rocking,” said Cole,

who struck out 34 over 26 innings during his winning streak. “I

have no real experience to pull from, so just going to try to keep

it as simple as I can and just control what I can control.”

The 23-year-old right-hander went 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA in seven

road outings. Cole, though, faces a tough task in his first

appearance against St. Louis, which has won seven straight.

“I know that – facing (Matt) Carpenter, Beltran, (Yadier)

Molina, (Matt) Holliday, Freese, (Jon) Jay – they’re just great

hitters,” he said. “Whether you’ve seen them a bunch of times or

not, you know what they’re capable of doing. You know in a playoff

atmosphere anything can happen.”

Cole will need to be especially careful against Beltran, who is

batting .357 with 15 homers – tied with Babe Ruth for eighth

all-time – and 28 RBIs in 35 postseason games.

“He’s like our secret weapon when it comes to the postseason. He

steps up every time,” Carpenter said. “Some guys just have a knack

for a big game and he’s one of them.”

The Cardinals counter with Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97), who also

thrived down the stretch. The right-hander followed a career-worst

four-start losing streak by going 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his final

four outings, striking out 30 over 24 2-3 innings.

“To be here at this time, you know what it’s all about,” he

said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s regular season, postseason,

whatever it may be. You’re just thinking about one thing, and that

is getting the job done for your team and giving them a chance to

win.”

While Lynn went 6-7 with a 5.15 ERA on the road, he was 9-3 with

a 2.82 ERA at home.

“Some pitchers feel more comfortable at certain places,” he

said. “But I have the luxury of throwing in front of the home crowd

here, and I’m excited about it.”

Lynn went 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA in two starts against San

Francisco in last season’s NLCS.

Lynn was 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in five starts versus the Pirates

this season. He surrendered a career high-tying seven runs over

four innings in a 7-1 loss in Pittsburgh on Aug. 31.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is 6 for 13 with two doubles

and a triple in their matchups, while McCutchen is 4 for 26 with 10

strikeouts.