Pedro Alvarez’s eighth-inning RBI single helps Pirates take 2-1 lead in NLDS

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Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez finished the 2013 regular season with a .180/.252/.286 line against left-handed pitching. Not exactly his cup of tea. But he came through in a big spot against lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist, delivering a tie-breaking RBI single to right, putting the Pirates up 4-3 in the eighth inning. Siegrist, by the way, finished the regular season with a 0.45 ERA in 39.2 innings.

The Cardinals made Game 3 of the NLDS a seesaw affair. After the Pirates went up 2-0 in the first inning on a two-run single by Marlon Byrd, post-season legend Carlos Beltran delivered a two-run single of his own in the fifth. The Pirates went ahead in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Russell Martin. But the Cardinals tied it right back up in the top of the eighth when Carlos Beltran blasted a solo home run to right-center off of Mark Melancon, leaving the score at three apiece.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to right-handed reliever Carlos Martinez to start the bottom of the eighth. Andrew McCutchen led off with a double down the left field line, putting the Pirates in great position to take the lead, but he made a base running error when Justin Morneau hit a sharp grounder to the left side. Shortstop Pete Kozma had him dead to rights, making an easy throw to third for the tag. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle brought in Josh Harrison to pinch-run for Justin Morneau. Marlon Byrd drew a walk to put runners on first and second with out out. With Alvarez due up, Matheny — smartly — went to Siegrist, knowing the numbers were overwhelmingly in his favor.

The post-season famously a small sample size affair and Alvarez showed the magic of it when he came through against Siegrist with an RBI single. Russell Martin followed up with a line drive RBI single to left. Closer Jason Grilli came on in the ninth inning, working around a lead-off single by Matt Adams to nail down the save.

The Pirates will look to advance to the NLCS with a victory tomorrow in Game 4 against the Cardinals. Cardinals starter Michael Wacha will oppose Pirates starter Charlie Morton.

Rangers activate Elvis Andrus from disabled list

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The Rangers made a handful of roster moves on Monday, per the club’s executive VP of communications John Blake. Shortstop Elvis Andrus has been activated from the 60-day disabled list, pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock. Catcher Jose Trevino was optioned to Double-A Frisco. And yesterday, outfielder Ryan Rua was optioned to Round Rock.

The big news, of course, is the return of Andrus. He missed over two months of action after suffering a fractured right elbow on April 11 when he was hit by a 97 MPH fastball. Andrus had gotten off to a good start, batting .327/.426/.500 in 61 plate appearances.

Jurickson Profar handled shortstop while Andrus was out and did an adequate job. While his defense was subpar according to the metrics, he hit .243/.315/.456 across 267 trips to the plate. With Andrus back, Profar will likely slide back into a utility role for the Rangers.