The Pittsburgh Pirates had only won three games against the Atlanta Braves all year, so going into the seven-game series the Braves were heavily favored, perhaps even by a sweep. However the Pirates had other plans, and showed it in the first game (Oct. 9, 1991) by beating Tom Glavine and the Braves 5-1 thanks to excellent pitching by Cy Young award winner Doug Drabek and a key home run courtesy of Andy Van Slyke. Atlanta's only run came on a David Justice homer in the ninth inning.
Game 2 (Oct. 10, 1991) saw winning pitcher Steve Avery and Orlando Pena (save) combine to hold the Pirates scoreless, with a "remarkable" double from Mark Lemke scoring the game's only run. Back in Atlanta for Game 3 (Oct. 12, 1991), the Braves break open an early lead, thanks to catcher Gregg Olsen's 2 run homer in the bottom of the first, capping a 4-run rally. Throughout the game the Braves continued to pile up runs, with homers from Ron Gant and Sid Bream, defeating the Pirates 10-3.
Tied 2-2 after nine innings, the Pirates score a run in the top of the tenth inning off losing pitcher Kent Mercker to win game 4 (Oct. 13, 1991) in Atlanta and tie the series at 2 games apiece. Game 5 (Oct. 14, 1991) features strong pitching performances by Tom Glavine and Zane Smith, with Glavine surrendering a run in the fifth inning. In a controversial play, the ump rules that David Justice failed to touch the bag as he rounded third, and was out on appeal.
Retuning to Pittsburg for the final two games of the series, the Pirates lead, 3-2. Game 6 (Oct. 16, 1991) was another pitcher's duel, with Steve Avery and Doug Drabek locked in a scoreless battle over the first 8 innings. In the top of the ninth, catcher Greg Olsen powered a double off Drabek to give the Braves a 1-0 lead, which reliever Orlando Pena preserved for Avery. after the game, Braves manager Bobby Cox said "He (Avery) was just dominating; he was unhittable. He threw the game of his lifetime."
For the final game (Oct. 17, 1991) the Braves tapped John Smoltz to start while the Pirates turned to John Smiley. The Braves made quick work of Smiley, chasing him off the mound with a 3-run first inning and never looked back. Smoltz pitched a complete game shutout and the Braves snagged their first pennant since moving to Atlanta. Pittsburg scored only one run in the final three games.
Steve Avery won the National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award. In 16.1 innings the Braves starter did not allow an earned run, giving up 9 hits and walking 4 while striking out 17.