Pirates squander 2 leads, then hang on for 7-6 victory over Cubs
CHICAGO — There's a new, blue patterned carpet in the visitor's clubhouse at Wrigley Field. The old one was ripped out over the winter, as it was stained and foul-smelling after being drenched in the Pirates' champagne celebration last September.
The Pirates sprayed bubbly all over the cramped locker room after clinching their first playoff bid in 21 years. The Chicago Cubs forgave the Pirates for their vandalism.
On Tuesday, the Pirates returned to Wrigley Field for the first time in 2014 and rallied to beat the Cubs, 7-6. The stakes were considerably lower this time — the season is only a week old, after all — so the carpet stayed clean and dry.
While it's unlikely the Cubs will cap Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary season with a clubhouse party, there's a good chance another team or two might. The Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals — all legitimate postseason contenders — will visit Chicago's North Side in September.
The Pirates blew leads of 4-0 and 6-4, then scored the game-winning run in the eighth inning without getting a hit.
Pedro Strop, the Cubs' fourth pitcher of the game, walked Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen. Left-handed reliever James Russell came in to face Pedro Alvarez and walked him. Russell Martin lifted a sacrifice fly to right field.
“We rolled up our sleeves and dug that one out of the dirt,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We just kept playing. It's not about what's not happening. It's about what we've got to do next. That's the way we kept going.”
The Pirates collected four hits off Edwin Jackson in the first inning and built a 4-0 lead.
Marte laced Jackson's first offering into left field for a double. McCutchen walked. Alvarez lined a two-run double. Martin was hit by a pitch. Neil Walker dropped an RBI single into right. Travis Ishikawa's sacrifice fly scored Martin.
Right-hander Charlie Morton seemed a bit out of sync in the second inning and put the first two runners on base. Emilio Bonifacio, who went 11 for 16 in the three-game series last week at PNC Park, stroked a two-out RBI single.
“He's a hitter,” Morton said of Bonifacio, who went 3 for 5 with a run scored and a stolen base. “That's impressive.”
In the third, Starlin Castro yanked a three-run homer into the left field bleachers to tie it at 4-4. Morton tried to throw a four-seamer down and away, but it strayed up and over the middle.
In the fourth, Marte drew a two-out walk, stole second and scored when McCutchen skipped a single up the middle. Martin doubled to start the fifth and scored on Ishikawa's triple to make it 6-4.
Castro hit a shot in the sixth to notch his first career multi-homer game. The Cubs stacked their lineup with left-handed batters against Morton, but Castro, a right-hander, went 3 for 3 with four RBIs against him.
Morton got his second straight no-decision. He worked six innings, allowed five runs and eight hits, walked one and struck out five.
“I threw (74) strikes out of (101) pitches,” Morton said. “I was getting ahead of guys. I got ground balls. But I threw two really bad pitches to Castro. That's what it was.”
The Cubs tied it in the seventh against reliever Tony Watson, whose streak of 221⁄3 scoreless innings was snapped. Anthony Rizzo's single scored Bonifacio from third.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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