Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Sports News

Cubs top Pirates as Rizzo spoils Polanco's debut

Send a link to a friend  Share

[June 11, 2014]  PITTSBURGH -- The spotlight was supposed be on Gregory Polanco but Anthony Rizzo stole it.

Rizzo, the left-handed hitting first baseman, had three extra-base hits, three runs scored and three RBIs to lead to the Chicago Cubs to a 7-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, spoiling the major league debut of Polanco, the highly touted outfield prospect.

Rizzo hit his 13th home run of the season and two doubles. He has five homers in his last 10 games.

"I'm confident right now," Rizzo said. "You can talk about mechanics and scouting reports and everything else but the biggest thing in this game is confidence. If you step into the batter's box with confidence then you're giving yourself a much better chance to hit."

Polanco went 1-for-5 with a strikeout. He was recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Indianapolis, where was leading the International League with a .347 batting average.

"It was a lot of fun," Polanco said. "It was exciting. I was a little nervous at first but then I relaxed and had fun."

Pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena's two-run double off rookie reliever Casey Sadler (0-1) broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning and put Chicago ahead for good, making the Cubs 11-22 on the road. Valbuena and left fielder Junior Lake had two hits apiece.

Cubs left-hander Travis Wood (6-5) allowed three runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings to get the win. His road ERA was 8.04 in six starts prior to Tuesday.

"It was a grind at times but I got through it," Wood said.

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run home run for the Pirates, his fifth in June in nine games. He hit a combined four homers in April and May.

Both of McCutchen's hits came off Wood, as many as the 2013 National League MVP had off him in 20 previous at-bats in his career.

"He's a tough out, regardless of what the numbers say," Wood said. "I have a lot of respect for him. He's one of the best players in the game."

Pittsburgh catcher Russell Martin and left fielder Starling Marte also had two hits.

Pirates starter Francisco Liriano left the game in the fourth inning with discomfort in his left side. The left-hander allowed two runs in three-plus innings and has failed to pitch at least six innings in eight of his last nine starts.

[to top of second column]

Liriano will likely miss his next scheduled start Sunday against the Marlins in Miami and could possibly land on the disabled list.

"I'm not a doctor but it looks like an oblique strain and it would be a record for someone to recover from an oblique strain in four days," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think we need to have a Plan B."

Rizzo doubled home a run in the seventh and scored on a single by shortstop Starlin Castro to push the Chicago's lead to 7-3.

Pinch hitter Jose Tabata drew the Pirates into a 3-3 tie with an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth. The Cubs went ahead in the top half of the inning when Rizzo hit a leadoff double and scored on second baseman Darwin Barney's two-out double.

Rizzo staked the Cubs to an early 2-0 lead with a two-run home run in the top of the first.

McCutchen answered with a two-run shot, his ninth, in the third to tie it at 2.

"Rizzo kind of got us rolling with that blast in the first and then we added on runs from there," Chciago manager Rick Renteria. "It was a good win."

NOTES: 3B Pedro Alvarez, despite being one of the Pirates' hottest hitters, was not in the lineup because he is 1-for-18 in his career against Cubs LHP Travis Wood. ... Chicago RHP Jose Veras was given his unconditional release Tuesday, one week after being designated for assignment. The 33-year-old went 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in 12 relief appearances. ... Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (6-3, 2.53 ERA) faces Pirates RHP Brandon Cumpton (1-2, 6.51 ERA) on Wednesday.

[ 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