PITTSBURGH — Pinch-runner Josh Harrison stood on second base in the eighth inning and pointed to Pirates third-base coach Nick Leyva.
"I told him to get that arm ready because I'm coming," Harrison said.
Moments later, Harrison was streaking across home plate to give Pittsburgh the lead. Minutes after that, the Jolly Roger, which has been a fixture on the Pittsburgh skyline all summer, climbed up the flagpole again.
Harrison scored on Pedro Alvarez's tiebreaking single Sunday, sending the Pirates to a 5-3 victory over the Cardinals that gave Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series.
Russell Martin followed with a sharp RBI single off reliever Kevin Siegrist, who took over after Carlos Martinez faltered.
Alvarez's go-ahead single made him 4-for-10 with four RBIs in the series. He homered in the first two games.
He also kept the Pirates' famous flag flying high in October. "Raise the Jolly Roger!" is the rallying cry for this wild-card team, one victory from its first postseason series win since Willie Stargell, Dave Parker and the "We Are Family" gang won it all in 1979.
"We're continuing to surprise a lot of people, I believe," star centerfielder Andrew McCutchen said. "We're continuing to show people that we're not done, that we're not just happy to be in the postseason. We're fighting to win a World Series."
That's heady territory for a franchise that ended a record 20 straight losing seasons this year.
Mark Melancon picked up the win despite allowing Carlos Beltran's tying home run in the eighth. Beltran's 16th playoff home run moved him past Babe Ruth for eighth place in postseason history.
"It's a must-win (today) for us," Beltran said. "Hopefully we can come here (today), take care of business, win and go play the last game at home."