It wasn't enough for Neil Walker and the Pirates to clinch home-field advantage in the wild-card playoff game in front of a national television audience Saturday. They put style points on the board as well. Walker hit two of the Pirates' six home runs in an 8-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The win improved the Pirates' record to 93-68 and ensured that the Reds (90-71) will finish behind them in the standings even with a win Sunday. A few dozen Pirates fans in attendance took advantage of the emptied stadium in the ninth inning to start an audible pro-Pirates chant. The two teams will meet at PNC Park Tuesday for a winner-take-all playoff game at 8 p.m. with the winner advancing to the National League Division Series. Walker Andrew McCutchen Marlon Byrd Pedro Alvarez and Andrew Lambo all homered. Five of them came against Reds starter Bronson Arroyo who allowed six runs on eight hits in 42/3 innings. Walker hit a full-count fastball up in the zone for his 15th home run of the year with two outs in the third. McCutchen followed suit taking Arroyo's hanging slider out for his 21st of the season and the Pirates had a 2-0 lead. No sooner had the Reds taken the lead than Alvarez tied the score with his 36th home run. Alvarez took a first-pitch breaking ball high in the zone 431 feet away to the base of the PNC power stacks in right-center field giving him 874 feet of combined home runs during the past two games. Walker homered again this time to center field on the first pitch of the fifth inning. It wasn't until Byrd homered into the Reds' bullpen that Reds manager Dusty Baker had seen enough. Lambo hit his first major league home run against Logan Ondrusek in the sixth inning. The dugout gave him the silent treatment until Marlon Byrd wrapped him in a bear hug.
Pirates' six home runs erase Reds, secure home field for wild-card game
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Sep 28