Friday, April 11, 2014
Sports News


Pirates Rally Past Cubs With Five-Run Seventh

Send a link to a friend  Share

[April 11, 2014]  CHICAGO  The Pittsburgh Pirates used a five-run seventh inning to take a lead and then survived a nail-biting ninth to top the Chicago Cubs 5-4 in the finale of a three-game series on Thursday at Wrigley Field.

Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez capped the come-from-behind seventh with his third home run in two days.

Alvarez, who clubbed two solo home runs on Wednesday in the Pirates' 7-5 loss, greeted Cubs left-handed reliever James Russell with a three-run shot to center with two out in the inning.

The Cubs loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Pirates reliever Jason Grilli got Major League batting leader Emilio Bonifacio to ground out to first baseman Travis Ishikawa to end the game.

The Cubs put runners at first and second with none out to start the ninth. Grilli proceeded to strike out pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena and catcher Welington Castillo but loaded the bases by walking second baseman Darwin Barney. But Bonifacio grounded to first.


"That's pretty good baseball right there with Bonifacio and the bases loaded and (Grilli) made a pitch," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, whose team won their third straight series. "He's got a very slow heartbeat out there."

The Pirates are now 4-2 against the Cubs. Four games have been decided by one run, with the Pirates taking three.

Russell (0-1) took the loss after facing just two batters in the inning. Pirates starter Gerrit Cole improved to 2-0 with the win and Grilli picked up his third save.

The Pirates tried for an early lead, loading the bases with one out in the third and the heart of the order up. But left-handed starter Travis Wood got back-to-back strikeouts of center fielder Andrew McCutchen and Alvarez to escape unscathed.

"Bear down, two good hitters coming up  MVP and Silver Slugger," Wood said of his mindset facing McCutchen and Alvarez. "You got to give them everything you can and I was fortunate to be a be able to throw some good pitches and get them out."

The Cubs grabbed a 1-0 lead in with two out in the third when Bonifacio reached on an error by Cole, stole second and then raced home after a throwing error by catcher Tony Sanchez sent the ball sailing into center field.

The Cubs scored three in the fourth as shortstop Starlin Castro's bounced an RBI single between third and short to score first baseman Anthony Rizzo with one out for a 2-0 lead. Right fielder Nate Schierholtz then came home from third on Cole's wild pitch to make it 3-0.

Castillo's RBI single scored Castro, who was called safe at home as catcher Tony Sanchez took a throw from left fielder Starling Marte and tried to block the plate and apply the tag. Home-plate umpire Mark Carlson called Castro safe.

Wood departed after allowing a leadoff double to second baseman Neil Walker in the seventh before the roof caved in for the Cubs.


[to top of second column]

"That's baseball, nothing's guaranteed in this game," said Wood, who allowed just one earned run and four hits while striking out nine and walking three. "Everybody's out trying to get us and we're trying to get them and that's the way the cards fell today."

In the seventh, Cubs right-handed reliever Brian Schlitter gave up a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Travis Snider to deep center. It was Snider's fourth career pinch-homer and trimmed Chicago's lead to 4-2.

Russell replaced Schlitter with two out and gave up the three-run homer to Alvarez, scoring left fielder Starling Marte and McCutchen for the Pirates' first lead at 5-4.

Cole was pulled for a pinch hitter and did not return for the seventh. He allowed three earned runs and five hits, struck out 10 and walked just two.

"(Cole's) fastball played better, the curveball came into play more," Hurdle said. "He made some mistakes ... three, five and six were very clean innings, but all-in-all basically it could have been a two-run game for him."

Castro went 3-for-4 with a run scored, his third three-hit game of the season, and improved his batting average to .342.


NOTES: The Pirates make the short run north to Milwaukee for a three-game series starting on Friday. They send LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1, 300 ERA) against Brewers RHP Wily Peralta (0-0, 3.60) at 7:10 p.m. ... Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco is hitting .370 through seven games at Triple-A Indianapolis and has a six-game hitting streak. ... Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen entered Thursday's game with hits in eight of his last 10 games at Wrigley Field, going 13-for-36 (.361) with four RBI. ... In 40 career game in Chicago, McCutchen is hitting .369 with five homers and 21 RBI. ... Cubs CF Emilio Bonifacio was leading the Major Leagues with a .500 average and 19 hits entering Thursday's game. He was also tops in on-base percentage (.537). ... The Cubs had scored 21 runs in their last three games after just eight in their first five. ... LHP Travis Wood entered Thursday's start in second among major left-handers with 25 quality starts dating to the start of last season. The Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw leads with 28. ... RHP Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29 ERA) takes on Cardinals RHP Joe Kelly (1-0, 1.69) on Friday night as the Cubs open a five-game, six-day trip to St. Louis and New York.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

< Sports index

Back to top