Pirates roll to 6-2 defeat of Reds in NL Wild Card Game

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The Pirates are heading to their first-ever NLDS.

Francisco Liriano allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings and Russell Martin homered twice as the Bucs cruised to a 6-2 victory over the visiting Reds in the National League Wild Card Game on Tuesday night at a sold-out and rowdy PNC Park.

Liriano had everything working — especially his changeup and slider — and used an aggressive approach to carve his way through the Reds’ lefty-heavy lineup. Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo and Jay Bruce — all left-handed hitters — went a combined 1-for-8 with four strikeouts against Pittsburgh’s ace southpaw. Liriano needed only 90 pitches, 64 of which went for strikes.

Martin was the big offensive star, but the Pirates got contributions from players up and down their starting lineup. Andrew McCutchen reached base in four of his five plate appearances and Neil Walker, Marlon Byrd and Pedro Alvarez all produced RBI. Jason Grilli closed it out with a perfect top-of-the-ninth.

The Pirates — who last reached the postseason in 1992, when the Division Series did not exist — will open their best-of-five showdown with the Cardinals in St. Louis on Thursday evening. The Cardinals will want to take both of those first two home games because the crowd at PNC Park can be a real difference-maker.

There were 40,487 fans there Tuesday — a park record — and countless others draped across the Roberto Clemente Bridge. The all-black outfits, the chants and the constant noise clearly rattled the Reds’ pitchers. It’s a perfect environment for postseason baseball as anyone tuning in on Tuesday night could see.

Rays starter Jake Faria lands on disabled list with left oblique strain

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Jake Faria made a third-inning exit from his start Tuesday night against the Red Sox, shortly after allowing three-run homer to Mookie Betts, and the Rays have now placed the 24-year-old right-hander on the disabled list with a left oblique strain.

It sounds like it could be a 4-6 week absence.

Faria has turned in some impressive performances this season, but his last three outings haven’t been so hot and he holds a rough 5.48 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 37/22 K/BB ratio over 47 2/3 total frames for the year.

Tampa Bay now has two healthy starters: Chris Archer and Blake Snell. The extreme bullpening shall continue, haters be damned.

Vidal Nuno has been called up from Triple-A Durham and could see some action out of the rotation. He was sporting a 3.57 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 37/3 K/BB ratio in 40 1/3 innings (seven starts, one relief appearance) this season at the Triple-A level.