Pirates hope Cole can even NLDS against Cards

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't lost a Gerrit Cole start since the end of August. They are going to need that trend to continue if they want to stay in this National League Division Series.

The Pirates try to even the best-of-five set on Friday in Game 2 versus the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Cole has been magnificent of late for the Pirates, going 4-0 in September with a 1.69 ERA in five starts. Overall, he was 10-7 with a 3.22 ERA.

"It's going to be unbelievable. You're in enemy territory. The place is going to be loud. It's going to be rocking," said Cole, who allowed four runs in his last four starts and struck out 34 over 26 innings during his winning streak. "I have no real experience to pull from, so just going to try to keep it as simple as I can and just control what I can control."

The 23-year-old righty, who has never faced St. Louis, will have to slow down Carlos Beltran, whose three-run homer highlighted a seven-run third inning in the Cardinals' 9-1 Game 1 rout.

"To be able to get out on a good first step and play well today, I think is big for our guys confidence-wise," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Adam Wainwright (1-0) permitted just three hits and struck out nine in a dominant seven-inning stint for the NL Central champions. The All-Star hurler's only blemish came when Pedro Alvarez belted a home run to lead off the top of the fifth.

Beltran now has 15 home runs and 28 RBI in 35 postseason games while David Freese had a pair of hits to extend his Division Series hitting streak to 10 games. He has hit safely in 10 of the 11 DS games he has played in his career.

"Five days might have seemed like a lot, but today it looked like that was about right," Matheny said of Freese. "So he physically feels good, and we knew his swing was in a good spot, too. We didn't really want him to change anything, and he came out today and proved once again he's the kind of guy that loves these situations and somehow figures out a way to get it done."

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, showed its inexperience in just its second playoff game since 1992. The Pirates committed three errors, mustered a mere four hits and received an ineffective effort from A.J. Burnett (0-1). The veteran righty walked four and hit a batter in addition to surrendering six hits and letting up seven runs in only two-plus innings of work.

"We had a rough game," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle remarked. "We're down one game in the series, and we'll move on."

Lance Lynn will try to put the Cards up two games on Friday, as he tries to build on a strong finish to his season. Lynn nearly lost his spot in the rotation, but he closed the year with four quality starts and allowed just three earned runs over his final 24 2/3 innings.

"I think it's something that he's earned," Matheny said. "Right now, I think he also has a great amount of confidence and that's something he's going to be able to take to another level. He's been very consistent here in his last couple starts and really has a good tempo and feel off the mound."

Plus, he's pitched well at home, where he was 9-3 with a 2.82 ERA. Not to mention this will be his third postseason run with the Cardinals.

Pittsburgh narrowly won the season series, 10-9, but lost six of nine in St. Louis.

Game 3 of this series will be on Sunday at PNC Park.