Alvarez's blast came in the third inning off of rookie Joe Kelly. Travis Snider walked with one out in the inning and stole second. Garrett Jones also reached via the free pass with two outs in the interesting which was an interesting strategy. Alvarez made them pay by crushing a ball that would have been in the river if it had any height to it. It was a line drive shot that hit the back railing of the Clemente seats. Alvarez has owned the Cardinals this year. He has seven home runs and 23 RBI against them in 15 games this year. This tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney says it all:
ELIAS: Pedro Alvarez is 1st player since '98 to have at least seven home runs and 23 RBI against one opponent (STL) in 15 or fewer games.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 30, 2012
Garrett Jones put the Pirates on the board in the first inning with a double that scored Snider who also doubled earlier in the inning. That was big because it provided Wandy Rodriguez with a lead early on in his quest to get his first win as a starter with Pittsburgh. Apparently pitching with a lead is something that he likes to do. After a 20 pitch first inning, Rodriguez settled down and pitched excellently for six innings. He gave up just three hits. The only player that really gave him fits was Jon Jay who walked three times, the only three free passes that the southpaw would issue.
The Pirates added on an insurance run in the fifth inning when Josh Harrison singled in Alvarez who was on second base after a double. Alvarez was robbed of another RBI on his double because Andrew McCutchen ran into an out on the bases trying to steal second. However, the extra run would have been nothing but a luxury. In addition to Rodriguez's excellent start, the bullpen came in and continued the shutout. The Pirates will go into Milwaukee having thrown 19 consecutive innings of shutout baseball.
Coming into this game, many of the analysts were saying that this was the Pirates' biggest game of the season. That's true. But it won't stay that way. They are one game back of the second wild card spot. There is a huge fight going on for that one spot. Every game the Pirates play from now until the end of the year will be the biggest game of the year. Their next biggest game of the year will come on Friday against the Milwaukee Brewers.