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Alvarez sets RBI mark, downplays history in loss

Pirates slugger becomes first player to plate a run in first six playoff games

ST. LOUIS -- Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez wanted more, but at least he pushed across the team's first run against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright with two outs in the seventh inning of the deciding fifth game of the National League Division Series on Wednesday night. However, it didn't result in a rally, proving to be the lone Bucs RBI in a 6-1 loss to the Cards.

With the Pirates trailing, 3-0, and two runners on, Alvarez hit a full-count pitch for hard grounder that bounced off the first-base bag and into short right field. Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter slid to grab it and bounced a throw wide of first base, which rolled to home plate. But it was not in time to beat Justin Morneau, who scored from second to cut the Cards' lead to 3-1.

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Alvarez's RBI was his sixth of the series and seventh of the postseason. He is the first player in Major League history to drive in a run in each of his first six playoff games.

"I had no idea," Alvarez said when informed of his place in history. "But at the end of the day, we were on the losing end. That's all that matters is trying to win ballgames, and all that personal stuff doesn't really mean anything."

Alvarez homered in three of the first four games. Between pitches on the six-pitch at-bat against Wainwright, he would step out of the box and take practice cuts, seeming to want to coax the Cardinals' ace into leaving a pitch in his hot zone, down and in. Wainwright threw curveballs on all but one of the pitches, yet he avoided the optimum spot of Alvarez's swing.

The RBI was the Bucs' third hit of the inning and just their fifth of the game.

After Wainwright struck out Neil Walker and forced Andrew McCutchen to ground out on the first pitch, Morneau and Marlon Byrd reached on infield singles. It set up Alvarez for his run-scoring at-bat.

"It's too bad we didn't get something like that going a little earlier in the game," Morneau said. "You saw the situation. He made pitches when he needed to. He's a guy that seems to have that extra level when he needs it."

After Alvarez's hit, Russell Martin grounded to Cards shortstop Pete Kozma, who forced Alvarez out at second to end the inning.

"We thought we had something going, but Wainwright figured a way to get out of it," Byrd said. "Tip your cap."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Pedro Alvarez