A leadoff single in the second by Brain LaHair was quickly erased thanks a 6-4-3 DP banged into by Alphoso Soriano. Another grounder brought the Pirates to the dish. Neil Walker led of with a single and stole second, and an out later, Rod Barajas walked. PM, though, had little trouble mowing down the 8-9 hitters, Clint Barmes and Correia.
Correia found himself in two out trouble in the third when Maholm singled and David Dejesus reached on a throwing error by KC, putting runners at second and third. Starlin Castro rolled one weakly to the hot corner. Pedro had no play at first after barehanding the ball, but alertly fired a bullet home to nail Maholm and keep the Cubs off the board.
JT started the Buccos off by getting plunked; Josh Harrison bunted him to second. With a base open, Maholm intentionally walked McCutch, so that bunt effectively took the bat out of the hands of the Pirates two hottest hitters. Pedro ruined the strategy by singling to center, scoring Tabata and chasing Cutch to third, where he scored on a Walker sac fly.
In the fourth, the Cubs cut the lead in half when Soriano took a heater yard, driving it over the center field fence. The Pirates went down 1-2-3.
Once again with two away, the Cubs stirred in the fifth. A DeJesus double was followed by a Castro triple, a slicing drive to right that fooled newbie OF'er Harrison, and the game was tied. Cutch walked to open the Pirate half, stole second, and went to third on a Pedro grounder. But The Kid popped out, and after a Matt Hague walk, Barajas flew out.
Both sides went quietly in the sixth, as Casey Coleman replaced PM.
With one away in the seventh, Pine-Richland's Blake Lalli walked. That brought on Tony Watson. Correia went 6-1/3, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks with a pair of K after just 76 pitches. Watson promptly gave up a double to right to Adrian Cardenas, but Lalli, the Cub catcher, was cut down at the plate Harrison to Walker to Barajas, who made a nice pick of the wide relay and slid across the dish to block it. Dejesus got a free pass, and Hurdle wasted no time bringing in Brad Lincoln. Bad Brad did his job, K'ing Castro.
With Shawn Camp on the hill for Chicago, Cutch lined a one out single and stole second. Pedro poked a ball to left that Soriano ran down, and Walker was intentionally walked to get to Hague. The rookie got ahead in the count 2-0, but pounded a sinker to short to end the frame still tied. He's 1-for-3 on the night with a walk, and hit the ball hard all three times.
Joe Mather and Lincoln battled to open the eighth, with Brad getting Mather to pop out to first on the ninth pitch, fighting off a 96 MPH heater. It only took him three pitches to tuck away the next pair of Cubbies. Barajas gave a first pitch Camp sinker a ride to center, but it was caught on the track in front of the bullpen fence. Barmes K'ed on three pitches. Garrett Jones came up to pinch hit, and he fanned too, caught looking. Onto the ninth, tied 2-2.
Hey, tied game and Clint Hurdle brought in Hanny, who he likes to keep up his sleeve for the save. Good call; he got ahead 0-2 on all three hitters, retiring the side in order with two whiffs.
Rafael Dolis took the ball for Chicago to face the top of Pittsburgh's lineup in the ninth. JT started it off with a knock up the middle. Harrison showed uncharacteristic patience at the dish and drew a five pitch walk to bring up Cutch. He went down swinging. Pedro drove a fastball to straightaway center, but it was hauled in at the track, moving JT to third. Harrison jogged to second a pitch later without a play. The Kid walked; so far the key to the inning has been Cub catcher Lalli, who has blocked four balls in the dirt. If any one gets by him, the game would be over. But it would be a wasted effort.
Matt Hague became the hero when he took one for the team on a 2-2 pitch, providing the first walk-off hit batter of the season...or maybe ever (Elias will let us know). That's taking the aka of "Hit Collector" to extremes, but hey, whatever works. At any rate, the packed house will really enjoy their fireworks tonight.
The Bucs overcome a 1-for-12 effort with RISP and 13 stranded runners by throwing out two Cubs at home and getting a clutch bean job. Now they're set up for the sweep, with Erik Bedard taking on Matt Garza tomorrow afternoon.
- Josh Harrison, with a sac bunt and walk, saw his 10-game hit streak end.
- 38,132 fans came to PNC Park tonight. It was 2012's third sellout and the first since the season opened with back-to-back SROs.
- Jeff Karstens second rehab start at Altoona went an inning too long. In 4-1/3 frames, he gave up five runs (four earned) on two hits, two walks and a wild pitch with two K throwing 59 pitches. All the runs were scored in the fifth inning.