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
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.
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"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
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.
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