Monday night Clint Hurdle relaxed. He helped his daughter Maddie with her math homework. He played chess with his son Christian. He spent time with family and friends in town for the festivities Tuesday. He went to bed at 10:30 p.m.

It didn't sound like Hurdle did much fretting about the game Tuesday night despite the stakes: Lose to the Cincinnati Reds and the Pirates' successful season the bookend to 20 years of incompetence and disappointment would end with only a toe dipped into the playoff waters.

The Pirates validated Hurdle's attitude when they defeated the Reds 6-2 at PNC Park in the wild-card game and earned their first playoff victory since Oct. 13 1992. A small early lead only grew as the game progressed.

The win sent the Pirates to the National League Divisional Series against another Central Division opponent the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Thursday in St. Louis.

The 40487 in the crowd the largest paid attendance in the history of PNC Park channeled their inner college football fan and dressed in black for the occasion spurred into action at the urging of Pirates players via social media. They booed the Reds off the field after batting practice. They watched as everyone from Andrew McCutchen to the training staff ran out of the dugout while being introduced and lining up down the third-base line. They erupted after the Pirates' three home runs. Two of them came from Russell Martin who became the first Pirate to hit multiple home runs in a playoff game since Bob Robertson hit three against the San Francisco Giants in the 1971 NLCS.

The matchup set up nicely for left-hander Francisco Liriano and he didn't disappoint.

Liriano who held opposing left-handers to a .321 on-base plus slugging percentage in the regular season held Shin-Soo Choo Joey Votto and Jay Bruce in check. Liriano completed seven innings allowing one run on four hits striking out five.

The Pirates advanced in improbable fashion besting Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto. Cueto had a 1.90 in 13 career starts in PNC Park before Tuesday. But he started the game because Mat Latos had an elbow issue; Cueto had made only two starts since returning from his third trip to the disabled list this season all because of problems with his right lat.

Forced from the game in the fourth Cueto allowed four runs three earned on seven hits walking one without striking out a batter.

Liriano took no prisoners through the first three innings retiring the side in order each time. He threw four consecutive sliders to Bruce in the second eliciting three swings and misses. He didn't let a ball leave the infield in the first three innings.