The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

September 24, 2013

Pirates clinch 1st playoff berth in 21 years

CHICAGO (AP) — Players chanted "MVP! MVP!" as they doused Andrew McCutchen in the visitors' clubhouse, two decades of futility finally washed away.

The last time the Pirates made the playoffs, Barry Bonds was in the middle of the order. The average price of gas was $1.13 a gallon.

Yes, it had been that long.

The Pirates are going to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, clinching at least a National League wild card Monday night when they beat the Chicago Cubs 2-1 and the Washington Nationals lost to St. Louis. And they hope that's just the start, not the end.

"We're definitely not done," McCutchen said. "We've got some games left. We still could move farther."

Now, they can turn their attention toward bigger goals, the kind that seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream through all those losing seasons.

It will be Pittsburgh's first trip to the postseason since Bonds, Jim Leyland and Co. won three straight NL East titles from 1990-92. Bonds then left for San Francisco as a free agent, and the small-budget Pirates piled up 20 consecutive losing records — the longest streak in the four major professional sports.

"For me, it's not about the last 21 years," Russell Martin said. "For me, it was just about this year, and what we could do this year. They had a good season last year, lost some steam late in September, but I knew that if you're having a good season all the way into September, you know you have a good club."

Starling Marte hit a tiebreaking homer in the ninth inning at Wrigley Field, and the Pirates threw out a runner at the plate for the final out.

The Pirates sprayed each other with bubbly and beer and sparkling cider in the visitors' clubhouse once St. Louis' 4-3 win over the Nationals became final.

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