Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh seal wild-card spots into playoffs

Cleveland, Ohio — The Tampa Bay Rays survived their third must-win road game in four days on the backs of an inexperienced starter and an opportunistic offense.

Alex Cobb tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, Delmon Young belted a solo homer and Desmond Jennings hit a two-run double to carry the Rays into the AL Division Series with a 4-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Joe Maddon gave the ball to an untested Cobb (1-0) for the wild card showdown, and the right-hander delivered for his manager in his first playoff start, scattering eight hits and a walk while working out of several jams.

The Rays will stay on the road for the ALDS, with their series against the Red Sox starting in Boston on Friday. Danny Salazar (0-1), who started the season in Double-A and deservedly worked his way into the Indians’ rotation, lasted just four-plus innings and surrendered three runs on four hits and a pair of walks. Cleveland fell down early, squandered several opportunities in the middle innings and saw its three top hitters in the lineup go a combined 0-for-12 with 12 left on base.

NL Wild Card Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 2

Pittsburgh, Pa. — The standing-room crowd bathed in a sea of black and yellow serenaded Johnny Cueto with jeers and went into a frenzy when Marlon Byrd and Russell Martin smacked home runs in the second inning.

What a way to let out 21 years of frustration.

Postseason baseball is back in the Steel City. Francisco Liriano fired seven innings of one-run ball and Martin cracked a pair of solo shots as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds.

The Pirates will move on to the NLDS where they will face the top-seeded St. Louis Cardinals. Game 1 of that series is set for today at Busch Stadium.

After the 36-year-old Byrd clobbered a solo blast into the left-field seats in his first ever postseason at-bat to lead off the second, the Pittsburgh faithful burst into chants of “Cueto” “Cueto” “Cueto” during Russell’s trip to the plate two batters later.

When Cueto proceeded to lose grip of the ball from his glove, it only urged the fans further as the deafening chant reverberated across PNC Park. One pitch later, Martin crushed a fastball that hovered over the heart of the plate into the left-field seats to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.