ST. LOUIS – Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates played a game of role reversal and pulled even with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The hard-throwing rookie gave up two hits in six dominant innings and also had an RBI in his postseason debut, Pedro Alvarez homered for the second straight day and the Pirates beat the Cardinals 7-1 Friday to even their N.L. division series at one game apiece.
“Just what we’ve been seeing all year,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “You saw a focused man that was ready to go.”
A day after St. Louis got a strong effort from its starter and took advantage of mistakes to romp 9-1 in the opener, the Pirates showed poise for just their second playoff win since 1992 while the Cardinals looked tentative in the field.
The Pirates now head home for Game 3 Sunday in the best-of-5 series. Wild-card game winner Francisco Liriano faces Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly.
Cole faced the Cardinals for the first time and left most of them shaking their heads, striking out five and walking one. After allowing Carlos Beltran’s double with one out in the first, Cole retired 11 straight before Yadier Molina led off the fifth with his third career postseason homer.
Relying on a fastball that peaked at 99 mph on the stadium radar gun, Cole had hitters helpless at times even without shadows that benefited pitchers early in Game 1.
“I just trusted myself and tried to keep it as simple as I could,” Cole said. “You just try and clear your mind after every pitch and just look forward.”
When he got in the least bit of trouble, Cole ignored chants from a second straight sellout crowd at Busch Stadium.
“You just have to take a deep breath,” Cole said. “Rip off the rearview mirror on the car.”
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn needed some help. He hasn’t lasted long enough to qualify for the victory in any of his three career postseason starts and yielded five runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
“It was a bad game,” Lynn said. “I made four bad pitches for four extra-base hits. When I made a mistake with the fastball, they were ready for it.”