Pittsburgh Pirates face Cardinals in crucial 3-game set

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Jul 11, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) rounds the bases on a game winning two run home run to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourteenth inning at PNC Park. The Pirates won 6-5 in fourteen innings. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout history there have been many epic battles. David vs. Goliath. Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. Boxers vs Briefs.

Add Pittsburgh Pirates to St. Louis Cardinals to that mix.

Tonight the Pirates enter Busch Stadium to face their NL Central rivals in a three-game set. The Bucs are trailing the Cardinals by five games for the division title. With only nine games left versus the Cardinals, each one carries extreme importance, and this series is no exception. Simply put, the Pirates can’t win the division this series, but by all accounts they can lose it. Such is the importance of this series.

The Pirates are coming in hot off of a stirring three-game sweep against a quality team in the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a strange series that saw the Bucs win in different ways. A Gerrit Cole v. Clayton Kershaw matchup didn’t materialize and the game was decided on a Pedro Alvarez walk off. Francisco Liriano labored through a game in which his most meaningful contribution was a three-run home run. Lastly, things looked bleak for the team until a 9-run outburst of an inning put them in the winner’s circle. The larger point to take away is that the Pirates are finding ways to win.

Will they find a way to win this series? Let’s find out by looking at each pitching matchup individually.

Next: Game One - Locke vs Martinez