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Bucs Get Upper Hand

Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez drives in the go-ahead run with a single in the eighth inning  of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)  EDWARDSVILLE INTELLIGENCER OUT; THE ALTON TELEGRAPH OUT

Pittsburgh Pirates' Pedro Alvarez drives in the go-ahead run with a single in the eighth inning of Game 3 of a National League division baseball series on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Pittsburgh. The Pirates won 5-3. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee) EDWARDSVILLE INTELLIGENCER OUT; THE ALTON TELEGRAPH OUT

Pittsburgh (ap) — Pedro Alvarez and the Pirates kept that Jolly Roger flapping high above Pittsburgh.

Alvarez hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning and the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in best-of-five NL division series.

Alvarez pulled a grounder into right field that scored pinch-runner Josh Harrison from second base. Russell Martin followed with a sharp RBI single against reliever Kevin Siegrist, who took over after Carlos Martinez (0-1) faltered.

The go-ahead single was the latest big hit by Alvarez. He homered in the first two games of the series and is 4 for 10 with four RBIs.

Alvarez also kept the Pirates’ famous flag flying high in October. “Raise the Jolly Roger!” is the rallying cry for this wild-card team, now one victory from its first postseason series win since the 1979 World Series.

Mark Melancon (1-0) picked up the win despite allowing Carlos Beltran’s tying home run in the top of the eighth. Jason Grilli worked the ninth for a save.

Charlie Morton is set to start for the Pirates in Game 4 today against rookie Michael Wacha.

Beltran finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs. His 16th postseason home run moved him past Babe Ruth for eighth place in postseason history.

Beltran’s shot temporarily silenced a rocking crowd at PNC Park. It also set the stage for another dramatic win by the Pirates.

Andrew McCutchen led off the eighth with his second hit, a double to left. But the NL MVP candidate unwisely tried to advance on Justin Morneau’s grounder to shortstop and was an easy out at third.

Harrison ran for Morneau and moved up when Marlon Byrd walked. St. Louis manager Mike Matheny turned to the lefty Siegrist to face the left-handed Alvarez. The Pittsburgh slugger tied for the NL lead with 36 homers in the regular season, but hit just .180 against lefties.

Alvarez responded with his single between first and second. Martin then tried to drop down a squeeze bunt to score Byrd from third — he fouled it off, then lined a hit to left that gave Grilli more than enough cushion.

Martin’s sacrifice fly off reliever Seth Maness in the sixth gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead and turned the game over to Pittsburgh’s “Shark Tank” bullpen, one of the keys to the franchise’s first winning season and playoff berth in 21 years.

Tony Watson worked around a one-out single in the seventh before giving way to Melancon in the eighth.

Dodgers 13, Braves 6

Los Angeles — Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer, Juan Uribe added a two-run shot and Los Angeles routed Atlanta for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five NL division series.

Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig each had three hits and scored three times on a big night at the plate for the Dodgers, who matched a franchise record for runs in a postseason game. Brooklyn beat the New York Yankees 13-8 in Game 2 of the 1956 World Series.

Los Angeles can advance to the NL championship series with a victory at home in Game 4 tonight. Ricky Nolasco pitches for manager Don Mattingly’s Dodgers against veteran Freddy Garcia.

Crawford made the play of the game when he tumbled head over heels at the low retaining wall in left field and onto his head to catch a foul ball in the eighth. The speedy leadoff man also scored three times, including once in the eighth when the Dodgers made it 13-4.

Chris Capuano won in relief of ineffective rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Los Angeles rallied in the third to regain the lead for good after Atlanta tied it in the top of the inning. After that, the Braves didn’t manage much besides Jason Heyward’s two-run homer in the ninth.

By then, it was way too late.

Atlanta starter Julio Teheran and Ryu both made inauspicious postseason debuts in the first matchup of rookie pitchers in the playoffs since 2007. Neither stayed around long.

In addition to being shaky on the mound, Ryu made two major mistakes in the field before giving way to Capuano, who spent most of the season in the rotation before moving to the bullpen.

With the Dodgers owning a six-run lead in their first home playoff game since 2009, fans waved their blue souvenir towels with one hand and made chopping motions with the other in mocking Atlanta’s trademark tomahawk chop.

Teheran took the loss, giving up six runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander struck out five, walked one and threw a wild pitch.

Ryu allowed four runs and six hits in three innings, becoming the first South Korean-born pitcher to start a postseason game in the major leagues.

Despite his rookie status, the left-hander brought a wealth of experience from his native country in becoming the first player to go from the Korean Baseball Organization to the majors. Besides his seven seasons in the KBO, he had pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium as a reliever.

Atlanta got to him with two runs in the first during another of Ryu’s typically slow starts. Capuano came on to strike out three and walk three in three hitless innings.

Braves reliever Alex Wood gave up four runs — none earned — and three hits in 2 1-3 innings.