After winning their first playoff series since 1992 against The Cincinnati Reds, it looked like the Pittsburgh Pirates had been given a reality check when they lost 9-1 to the St Louis Cardinals in game one of their National League Division series.

If it was a reality check, it worked.

On Friday the Bucs gave the St Louis Cardinals the same treatment with an emphatic 7-1 victory on Friday to level their best-of-five series at 1-1.

Pittsburgh starting pitcher Gerrit Cole and his hard-hitting team mates helped the Pirates pay back their beating in Thursday's opener, by shutting down the top-seeded Cardinals on just four hits while banging out 10 of their own.

Cole, who yielded just two hits in six innings, helped his own cause with a sharply-hit single up the middle in the second inning to drive in Pedro Alvarez with the first run of the game.

Alvarez, who had doubled in the second inning, had a more leisurely tour around the bases in the third when he ripped a line-drive shot over the center-field fence for a two-run homer off Cardinals starter and loser Lance Lynn and a 3-0 lead.

The Pirates - who have also had their first winning regular-season in 21 years, ending the worst record in major American sports - added two more runs in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd, and an RBI single by Russell Martin, while Starling Marte added another home run in the eighth.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina homered in the fifth inning to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard.

The series shifts to Pittsburgh for the next two games with Game Three scheduled for Sunday.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies