PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pinch-runner Josh Harrison stood on second base in the bottom of the eighth inning and pointed to Pittsburgh Pirates third base coach Nick Leyva.
"I told him to get that arm ready, because I'm coming," Harrison said.
Moments later, Harrison was streaking across home plate to give the Pirates the lead. Minutes after that, the Jolly Roger that's been a fixture on the Pittsburgh skyline all summer climbed up the flagpole again.
Harrison scored on Pedro Alvarez's tiebreaking single Sunday, sending the Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals that staked Pittsburgh to a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five NL division series.
Russell Martin followed with a sharp RBI single against reliever Kevin Siegrist, who took over after Carlos Martinez (0-1) faltered.
The go-ahead single was the latest big hit by Alvarez. He homered in the first two games against St. Louis and is 4 for 10 with four RBIs in the series.
Alvarez also kept the Pirates' famous flag flying high in October. "Raise the Jolly Roger!" is the rallying cry for this wild-card team, now one victory from its first postseason series win since Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and the "We Are Family" gang won it all in 1979.
"We're continuing to surprise a lot of people, I believe. We're continuing to show people that we're not done, that we're not just happy to be in the postseason," star center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "We're fighting to win a World Series."
Heady territory for a franchise that had endured a record 20 consecutive years of losing coming into this season. Six months later, the Pirates are on the cusp of knocking out baseball royalty.
Mark Melancon (1-0) picked up the win despite allowing Carlos Beltran's tying home run in the top of the eighth. Jason Grilli worked the ninth for a save.