PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates went 21 years between playoff games. The wait will be significantly shorter this time around. Russell Martin homered twice, Francisco Liriano was dominant for seven innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates roared past Cincinnati for a 6-2 victory in the NL wild-card game.
In front of a black-clad crowd savoring its first postseason game since 1992, Marlon Byrd also connected and Andrew McCutchen had two hits and reached base four times for Pittsburgh.
Liriano scattered four hits for the Pirates, who will face St. Louis in Game 1 of the NL division series Thursday. Liriano struck out five and walked one to win the first playoff game of his career.
NEW YORK (AP) — The major league batting average dropped to .253 this season, its lowest level since hitters combined for a .244 average in 1972. This year's average was down from a recent peak of .270 in 1996.
The big league earned run average of 3.86 was at its low point since a 3.74 ERA in 1992, STATS said. And the average of 4.17 runs per team per game was the smallest since a 4.12 average, also in 1992.
The home run average of 0.96 per team per game was down from 1.02 last year but higher than the 0.94 in 2011. The average peaked at 1.17 in 2000, two years before Major League Baseball and its players agreed to start testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Royals and manager Ned Yost agreed to a two-year contract extension after wrapping up an 86-76 season, the best finish for the franchise in 24 years.
Yost's contract was set to expire after the season.
Yost has been the manager in Kansas City for the past four years, and has been instrumental in helping to bring along one of the youngest rosters in the major leagues. Progress was evident after the All-Star break this season, when the Royals went 43-27 down the stretch.
That allowed the Royals to get into playoff contention. They were eliminated from the AL wild-card race in their penultimate series of the season, but still were 14 wins better than last season.
Yost is 741-831 in 10 seasons as manager of the Brewers and Royals.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — While Jake Locker will miss a "few weeks" with a sprained hip, coach Mike Munchak says the Titans are encouraged by how the quarterback already is moving around.
Exactly how many games Locker misses depends on how quickly he recovers.
The Titans released a statement saying a second MRI exam was "reassuring" and confirmed Locker did not suffer major damage to his hip joint. Locker sprained his right hip and also his right knee.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday for the Titans (3-1) against Kansas City (4-0), and Tennessee has not made any roster move yet to add another quarterback to the roster.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to trade starting left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Baltimore Ravens for undisclosed draft picks. The trade won't be official until Monroe, the eighth overall pick in the 2009 draft, passes a physical in Baltimore.
Monroe has started 62 games over five seasons, including the team's past 30 games. He was Jacksonville's best offensive linemen this season, getting beat at times as he tried to pick up the slack for struggling guard Will Rackley.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — San Francisco strong safety Donte Whitner learned he was being fined $21,000 for his hit on St. Louis Rams' wide receiver Chris Givens in the end zone with just under six minutes to play in Thursday's 35-11 49ers victory.
Whitner said he would appeal the stiff penalty.
PARK CITY, Utah (AP) — U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Larry Probst, voted onto the IOC last month, said amending the Olympic charter to list sexual orientation as a form of discrimination is one of the few avenues available to the USOC as it tries to send a message to Russia, which recently passed an anti-gay law, less than a year before it hosts the Winter Olympics.
The sixth item in the charter's "Fundamental Principles of Olympism" says "any form of discrimination ... on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement." It does not specifically mention sexual orientation.
Probst reiterated that an American boycott of the Sochi Olympics is not an option, but asked what moves the USOC could make, both Probst and CEO Scott Blackmun mentioned the possible amendment, which would have to be done at a future IOC meeting.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will miss the first 4-6 weeks of the NBA season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
General Manager Sam Presti said the three-time All-Star had knee swelling that would not subside, and the procedure was intended to solve the problem. He said doctors determined that a loose stitch was to blame for the swelling, that Westbrook's lateral meniscus has healed properly and the procedure was successful.
Westbrook also had surgery in May to repair cartilage in his right knee after he was hurt in Game 2 of Oklahoma City's first-round playoff series with Houston. He had never missed a game in his five NBA seasons before the injury.
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — David Nalbandian, the 2002 Wimbledon runner-up, retired from professional tennis because of a shoulder injury.
The 31-year-old Argentine called it a "difficult day," but added at a news conference that he was "super grateful" to his sport.
Saying his shoulder did not "respond well" to treatment, Nalbandian concluded, "I cannot compete."
Nalbandian spent 13 years on the ATP tour, reaching No. 3 in the rankings in 2006 and spending five consecutive years in the top 10. He reached at least the semifinals at all four Grand Slam tournaments, losing to Lleyton Hewitt of Australia in the 2002 final at Wimbledon.