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PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez mashed two home runs that travelled an estimated 831 feet Friday night. It was a series of sprints by the burly Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman, however, that ignited a 12-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Alvarez broke open a close game in the sixth by beating out a potential double play, followed it up with the fifth stolen base of his career then scored with a deft slide around St. Louis catcher Yadier Molinas tag that gave the Pirates the momentum they needed to pull away. "I thought the stolen base was key," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He puts a lot of focus on running the bases and hes arguably one of our best baserunners when hes on." It certainly looked like it, as Alvarezs outstretched left arm slid across the plate a split second before one of the games best defensive catchers could nab him. The Cardinals imploded from there as Shelby Miller (0-1) continued to struggle against Pittsburgh. Miller fell to 0-5 with a 5.92 ERA against the Pirates in his brief career after tying a career-high by allowing five runs in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 16-5 with a 2.34 ERA in his 33 other major league appearances. "Its not the park. Its not the team. I just pitched poorly today," Miller said. "I guess it just lines up that way where I dont pitch well when I face them." Travis Ishikawa added his first major league home run in nearly two years for Pittsburgh. Gerrit Cole (1-0) gave up two runs in seven innings in his first start since losing the deciding Game 5 of the NL division series to St. Louis last October. Six months removed from a taut NLDS that pushed the eventual NL champions to the brink of elimination, the Pirates sent an early message they have no plans of going away. Cole is considered the ace in waiting after a stellar rookie season in which he was arguably Pittsburghs best pitcher over the final six weeks. Eager to take the next step in his development, the 23-year-old kept the Cardinals in check by mixing a fastball that consistently reaches the upper 90s with improved offspeed stuff. He also showcased some of his maturity, working out of a bases loaded situation in the fourth by getting Jhonny Peralta to fly out. His only mistake came in the fifth when Carpenter drilled a shot into the right field stands to pull the Cardinals to 3-2. Otherwise he teamed with catcher Russell Martin to keep St. Louis in check. "I think it was just a really well-played ballgame on our part," Cole said. "I cant say enough about what Russ did behind the plate. Not sure there are any other catchers in the entire world that could handle what I threw at him tonight." Pittsburghs offence -- which mustered all of 20 hits in 35 innings of a season-opening series against the Chicago Cubs -- made sure it didnt stay close for long after pounding out 16 hits in eight innings against the NL Central favourites. Alvarez began the year in a 1 for 15 slump but ended that with a home run to the gap in left-centre for his first home run of the season. He added his second two innings later with a long drive to right-centre that travelled an estimated 448 feet. His hustle down the first-base line in the sixth allowed Pittsburghs rally to continue and the Pirates pressed the advantage. Molina committed a rare error after Alvarezs slide, botching a potential rundown at third base when his throw hit Martin in the back and rolled into the stands. The miscue gave the Pirates a 5-2 lead and Pittsburgh poured it on in the late innings. NOTES: Ishikawas solo home run in the fourth was his first since May 15, 2012 while playing for the New York Yankees. ... The start of the game was delayed 1:05 by rain, the third straight game a Cardinals game was delayed by weather. ... Injured Cardinals 2B Mark Ellis is starting baseball activities but it remains uncertain when hell be ready to return from left knee tendinitis. Ellis went on the 15-day DL on March 27 and is eligible to return on April 11. ... The series continues on Saturday. RHP Joe Kelly will make his season debut for the Cardinals against Pittsburghs Francisco Liriano (0-0, 0.00). Custom Orlando Magic Jerseys . New York City FC introduced Frank Lampard in Brooklyn on Thursday after signing the 36-year-old former Chelsea midfielder to a two-year contract. Shaquille ONeal Jersey . Rookie Christian Vazquez got his first three major league hits and drove in three runs, while David Ortiz had three RBIs to break open the game in the sixth inning and lead Boston over the Houston Astros 8-3. http://www.magicauthen...tin-jackson-magic-jersey/ . Tortorella told The Vancouver Province hell be cheering for Team Sweden to win gold when they take on the defending Olympic champions on Sunday morning. "I hope Sweden wins, cause I dont think Hammer (Dan Hamhuis) is going to play, judging by whats happened. Timofey Mozgov Jersey . However, the intensity and physicality that has characterized the postseason so far has caught Gretzky by surprise. "Its a little bit risqué right now," Gretzky told Philadelphia radio station 97. Tracy Mcgrady Jersey . "We were left with the overall impression that the team wasnt trending toward being able to compete for a Stanley Cup," Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said in a news conference at the clubs arena. "And that was just a clear signal and why it was time to make those changes. Lacking game-breaking scorers, the Nashville Predators dont have the greatest fantasy appeal, though they do have a top-end defenceman and goaltender to lead those that might provide value later in drafts. Top Picks: Over the last five seasons, D Shea Weber has scored 83 goals, leading all defencemen (Washingtons Mike Green is the only other one with more than 60), and Webers 1081 shots on goal lead all defencemen in that time, so the production comes naturally through the Predators dependence on their franchise player. Hes not going to put up as many points as Ottawas Erik Karlsson, but Weber could be the next defencemen off the board. Over the last five seasons, G Pekka Rinne has posted a .919 save percentage, ranking fifth (among goalies with at least 150 games played), but last seasons .910 save percentage was a career-low and he had hip surgery in the offseason. Rinne plays a lot -- 116 of a possible 130 games in the last two seasons -- so if hes recovered from his hip woes then hes a quality fantasy starter. If not, then there is some risk because his heavy workload can play havoc with the percentages if isnt better than last season. Value Plays: Mike Fisher 33-year-old C Mike Fisher played 19:28 per game for the Predators last season, the second-highest average ice time of his career, but there is a definite ceiling on his offensive production as hes topped 50 points twice and 20 goals five times in his career. With decent peripheral stats, Fisher is a safe option as a No. 4 fantasy centre, but generally one that will go very late in drafts, if at all, because he doesnt possess the same kind of scoring potential as other, younger, centres. Sleepers/Breakthrough: It figures that one of Nashvilles most useful fantasy forwards is a winger who tallied four goals last season. RW Patric Hornqvist is a three-time 20-goal scorer who generates lots of shots -- 3.31 per game over the last four seasons, ranking 17th -- but he scored on just 4.6% of his shots in 2013, half of his career rate. He also played only 24 games due to a variety of injuries, so hes a player who could provide value simply by returning to good health and previous form. Coming over from Chicago, where he scored 31 goals in the last two seasons, LW Viktor Stalberg is looking for more ice time than the 14 minutes per game he received with the Blackhawks, perhaps even some time on the power play. His 31 even-strength goals over the last two seasons ranks 37th, ahead of Marian Hossa, Patrick Marleau, Jeff Carter, Ilya Kovalchuk and Daniel Sedin, some qaulitty socring wingers, so Stalberg is worth a look based on the potential opportunity he has in Nashville.dddddddddddd Last year looked to be LW Colin Wilsons breakout campaign, as he put up 19 points in 25 games before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. One concern about Wilson is that he genrates so few shots on goal. Last year, it was 1.04 per game -- Calgarys Matt Stajan was the only player to finish with more points with fewer shots per game and Stajan played 43 games. Given the Predators offensive needs, though, Wilson will get chances to produce this season, so he could be worth a late-round flier. After scoring 36 points in 72 games as a rookie in 2011-2012, RW Craig Smith flopped to just 12 points in 44 games last season. Smith has skill, but is also minus-20 through 116 career NHL games, so hes not a finished product and may not have enough potential to be anything more than waiver wire material in most leagues. D Roman Josi moved into a more prominent role on the Predators blueline last season, playing 23:32 per game and scoring 18 points, so he has some offensive upside, but he also spent last season paired with Weber and could lost that spot to top pick Seth Jones. How the minutes get allocated, particularly on the power play, will determine if Josi still has fantasy appeal. Rookies: Taylor Beck, Seth Jones, Filip Forsberg As justifiably excited as the Predators may be about landing D Seth Jones with the fourth pick in the draft, it would be asking a lot for him to step in and produce enough to generate fantasy interest. Jones did score 56 points in 61 WHL games last year, but it wont be easy for him to generate offence on a team that lacks goal-scorers. A couple of young Predators wingers might be able to help in that regard. RW Taylor Beck had 41 points in 50 AHL games last season before adding seven points in 16 games with the Predators. If he wins a spot in the top six, he could score enough to help in deep leagues. Acquired from Washington in the Martin Erat trade, LW Filip Forsberg is a talented prospect, and he had one point in five late-season games with Nashville last season, but it would be asking a lot for the 19-year-old to move from the Allsvenskan, which is the league below the Elite League in Sweden, to having an immediate impact in the NHL. Its possible, but seems like a wait-and-see situation. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. 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