Pirates use barrage of homers to win 8-3, clinch PNC playoff game

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

The Pirates whipped the Reds on Saturday with a barrage of home runs, clinching home field advantage for the one-game playoff. That means that Gerrit Cole won't start tomorrow, and instead will likely be on the Pirates' roster for the one-game playoff. In fact, it's likely that no one important will play, particularly given all the HBP nonsense that happens whenever Reds pitchers face the Pirates. Expect, then, to see lots of ... who? Kris Johnson? Brandon Cumpton? Stolmy Pimentel? Jeanmar Gomez? In any case, even the Steelers/Vikings matchup tomorrow will be less relevant than the Pirates game, and to paraphrase one fan on Twitter, this is the best reason for an irrelevant September Pirates game in over 20 years.

Also, today's victory was the Pirates' 93rd of the season, meaning they're now guaranteed to end the regular season with a loss total in the sixties. I mean, who knows -- after clinching a winning season, and then a playoff berth, I'm not sure which milestones I'm supposed to celebrate anymore.

Charlie Morton had to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, but other than that, the first two innings were fairly quiet. In the third, though, Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen hit back-to-back solo homers off Bronson Arroyo.

Morton coughed up all three of his runs in the bottom of the inning. He allowed two batters to reach base with a hit by pitch and a walk, leading to an RBI single from Brandon Phillips and a two-run double by Joey Votto.

In the fourth, the Pirates tied the game at three on yet another solo homer, this time by Pedro Alvarez. Then in the fifth, Walker the game's fourth solo homer, and Marlon Byrd followed three batters later with a two-run shot to make it 6-3. For good measure, Andrew Lambo hit a no-doubt solo shot in the seventh inning, the first homer of his career.

Meanwhile, Pirates relievers beat back the Reds' comeback attempts. Morton loaded the bases in the fifth, but Vin Mazzaro cleaned up the mess, as Zack Cozart struck out and Ryan Hanigan lined out to center. Justin Wilson walked two batters in the sixth, but struck out Joey Votto and got Chris Heisey to ground out to end the inning. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Bryan Morris pitched the last three innings without issue.

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