(BaseballStL) -- Joe Kelly took the mound charged with a tall order: Face down the the raucous crowd inside PNC and keep the Cardinals in the game against their kyrptonite, Francisco Liriano. In that respect, he succeeded.
Kelly didn't shut down the Pirates, but he came as close as could be expected for a 25-year-old making his first postseason start.
As the game began, the largest crowd in PNC history gave the young pitcher no quarter. Chants of "Kel-ly! Kel-ly! Kel-ly!" began as soon as he took the mound, carrying through the first inning.
After getting two quick outs, Kelly surrendered two runs following a Pete Kozma throwing error to get the Pirates on the board.
Just as it appeared the Bucs and their fans may knock out the young Redbird, he closed the door.
From there he worked through the innings like a seasoned vet, retiring 12 of the next 14 batters to carry the Cardinals through to the sixth inning.
He worked quickly, delivering nine first-pitch strikes and fooling Pirates hitters into 10 swings and misses.
In the sixth, a leadoff walk followed by a double from Marlon Byrd finally chased Kelly from the game, but not before he struck out five Pirates.
He only allowed five hits, though one of those was a debatable call on the Kozma play, and the other two belonged to Byrd.
Three runs were tallied on Kelly's line, though only two were earned. For an 85-pitch effort in what was the wildest stadium he likely ever saw, one could hardly call this a disappointment.