Thousands of St. Louis Cardinals fans descended on downtown St. Louis Thursday afternoon for Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Fans stood and applauded as the Cardinals reserves and starters were introduced in pregame ceremonies at Busch Stadium. They cheered even more loudly when St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright retired Pittsburgh 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning.
Millstadt resident Macey Roarty, 23, sported a pair of red stirrup socks and a Cardinals logo tattooed on her shoulder as she attended the pregame rally in the Ballpark Village parking lot, just north of the stadium.
She said the Cardinals' frequent appearances in the postseason don't make the playoffs any less exciting.
"This never gets old," Roarty said. "I'm going to be here every single time."
Roarty said she isn't concerned about the struggles the Redbirds have had against Pittsburgh; St. Louis won 9 of 19 games against the Bucs during the regular season.
"The playoffs are a whole different thing," Roarty said. "The Pirates don't know what they're in for. This is our time of year."
While Roarty was talking, another fan walked by and said, "Don't interview me. My boss thinks I'm working."
As he walked away he added, "Go Cardinals!"
And go they did, scoring seven runs in the third inning as the Redbirds had eight straight batters reach base. The crowd of 45,693 was roaring as Carlos Beltran hit a towering three-run homer to open the scoring; St. Louis scored four more times on an RBI walk by Jon Jay, a two-run single by David Freese, and a Pirates throwing error.
An hour earlier, the the capacity crowd stood silently as the national anthem was sung by Four Digit Chord, an a cappella group of civilian and military volunteers at Scott Air Force Base.
Charlie Dugan, 26, of Pittsburgh, wore a black Pirates shirt in the middle of a sea of red during the pregame rally.
"I was in Kansas City for work when we won the wild card game, so I decided I was going to drive over," Dugan said. "I wouldn't miss it for the world."
Dugan, a traveling salesman, said he had had Pirates season tickets for three years.
"You always think this is going to be the year," Dugan said. "But, then again, I can hardly believe this is real."
Dugan said he came to St. Louis earlier in the season to take in a game and that he was amazed how nice Cardinals fans have been to him.
"This is a great place to watch a ballgame," Dugan said. "Of course I hope the Pirates win. But I just hope they put on a good show for the city."
NLDS Game 2 - Friday - Busch Stadium - 12:07 p.m.
* 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. Pre-Game Pep Rally in Ballpark Village parking lot. Music by DJ Todd Thomas, entertainment, prizes, Fredbird, Team Fredbird, 2011 World Series trophy on display.
* A former Cardinal player not yet identified will sign autographs from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
* Gates open at 10 a.m., all fans receive a rally towel. Pre-Game Ceremony starts at approximately 11:45 a.m.
* National Anthem by Generald Wilson, retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class. The 206th Regional Support Group Army Reserves, based in Springfield, Ill., will hold a large flag during the anthem. Colors presented by Joint Service Color Guard -- U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base
* Cy Young Award winner Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter will throw the ceremonial first pitch