Pittsburgh Pirates' 21-year playoff drought over

Pitcher Jason Grilli and catcher Russell Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate after the final...

Pitcher Jason Grilli and catcher Russell Martin of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate after the final out at Wrigley Field on September 23, 2013. (Brian Kersey/Getty Images/AFP)

The Sports Xchange

, Last Updated: 3:19 AM ET

Twenty-one years.

 

That is how long the Pirates waited between playoff appearances, finally ending the drought Monday night with a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs coupled with the Washington Nationals' 4-3 loss to St. Louis.

"To be able to have this opportunity to celebrate, to come together and do this, it's a day I'll always remember," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said amid the party. "We look forward to doing this year-in and year-out.

"And we're definitely not done."

The Pirates almost had to wait at least another day to clinch after the Cubs tied the game in the eighth at one. But Starling Marte clubbed a go-ahead solo home run in the ninth and Pittsburgh hung on in the bottom of the inning for the win.

The Pirates needed some last-ditch defensive heroics in the bottom of the frame to seal the deal.

The Cubs' Nate Schierholtz reached on a fielder's choice and bolted around the bases when Ryan Sweeney singled to right-center with two out.

But McCutchen fired a strike to first baseman Justin Morneau, who, in turn, relayed to catcher Russell Martin, who blocked the plate and tagged Schierholtz out to prevent the tying run from scoring.

"In that situation it's do or die, the guy's going to have to run me over," Martin said. "I was down on both knees there, I wasn't taking any chance he was going to get down underneath me."

Neil Walker's first-inning solo home run gave the Pirates a lead they would maintain until the eighth.


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