Cubs Manufacture a Walk-off Win – Cubs 4, Pirates 3

Game Eighty-Six – Cubs 4, Pirates 3 – 11 innings

WP – Matt Guerrier (1-1, 3-4) LP – Bryan Morris (4-3) Save – None

wflag-pubThe Cubs won for the second day in a row on a sacrifice fly by Dioner Navarro in the 11th inning on Sunday. The Cubs took two of three from the Pirates and have won nine of 15.

Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) led off the 11th with a single to left and advanced to second on a bloop single to right by Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a sac fly RBI). Russell Martin tried to pick Rizzo off second following a 1-1 pitch to Valbuena but his throw ended up in center. Rizzo and Soriano moved up ninety feet and the Pirates walked Luis Valbuena. Dioner Navarro pulled a 2-2 pitch from Bryan Morris into right. Rizzo tagged and scored the game winner.

The Cubs took a 3-2 lead into the ninth after Scott Hairston (1-for-1 with a home run) broke a two all tie with a pinch-hit homer off Tony Watson in the seventh. Kevin Gregg struck out the first two batters he faced before Starling Marte lined a 3-2 pitch into the bleachers in left center that tied the game at three. Gregg was hung with his second blown save of the season. The Cubs pen is 20-for-38 in save opportunities this year.

A day after pitching two scoreless innings, Matt Guerrier stepped up again and pitched two scoreless frames. Guerrier was not as sharp as he was on Saturday but got the job done thanks to two 4-6-3 double plays. Guerrier picked up his first win in a Cubs’ uniform.

Carlos Villanueva put together a good outing and lasted four innings on a low-pitch count. The Cubs said prior to the game that Villanueva would be limited to 60-70 pitches in his first start since the middle of May. Villanueva gave up one run on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Villanueva struck out four of the first 10 batters he faced and retired the side in order in both the second and third innings. Villanueva threw 69 pitches, 40 for strikes.

Carlos Villanueva got into the act at the plate. Villanueva singled in his only at bat and scored the Cubs first run in the third inning.

Hector Rondon allowed the Pirates to tie the game in the fifth on a double by Jose Tabata. Rondon wiggled his way out of further damage in the fifth and sixth before turning the game over to Pedro Strop.

Pedro Strop, James Russell and Blake Parker did their jobs and kept the Pirates off the board in the seven and eighth innings.

The Cubs manufactured three of their four runs on Sunday. Scott Hairston delivered the only run scoring hit, his solo hommer in the seventh. Anthony Rizzo drove in Carlos Villanueva with a grounder to first. Rizzo reached on an error by Garrett Jones. Alfonso Soriano plated Starlin Castro (1-for-5 with a double and a run scored) with a sac fly to center in the third inning.

The Cubs offense managed four runs on eight hits and three walks. The Cubs finished the game 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

Darwin Barney (0-for-4) committed his first error of the season in the tenth … then made up for his mistake with three spectacular defensive plays in extra innings.

With Sunday’s win (6-8 in Sundays in 2013), the Cubs improved to 38-48 on the season and have won four of the last five series.

Carlos Villanueva surrendered a two-out single to Andrew McCutchen in the first inning but that was all. Villanueva threw 13 pitches in the first frame, nine for strikes. The Cubs did not test Burnett in the first inning and allowed him to throw only seven pitches in the first, six for strikes.

The game remained scoreless through the second inning. Villanueva retired the side in order in the second. Villanueva needed 28 pitches, 18 for strikes, to record the first six outs on Sunday. The Cubs wasted a chance to score in the second after Luis Valbuena walked and Nate Schierholtz collected the Cubs’ first hit with a single to right. Barney grounded to short but the Pirates could not turn the inning ending double play. Castillo lined out to short to end the inning.

The Pirates went down in order in the third. Villanueva threw 43 pitches, 27 for strikes, over the first three innings.

The Cubs got on the board in the third after Carlos Villanueva led off with a single to center. Burnett caught Borbon looking at a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Starlin Castro drove a 1-1 pitch into the gap in right center. Villanueva held at third with one out on Castro’s 20th double of the season.

Anthony Rizzo pulled a 0-1 pitch toward the hole between first and second. Garrett Jones stopped the ball but bobbled it. Villanueva scored, Castro stopped at third and Rizzo reached on E3. With runners on the corners and one down, Alfonso Soriano lifted a 1-2 pitch into center. McCutchen caught the ball. Castro tagged, hustled down the line and slid in safe with the Cubs’ second run. Valbuena flied out to center for the third out.

The Cubs had a 2-0 lead after three complete … but it did not last long.

Jose Tabata led off the fourth with a double to left off the ivy. Tabata just missed a home run. Andrew McCutchen lashed a double into left center. Tabata scored, 2-1 Cubs. Garrett Jones grounded out to second on a 3-1 pitch. McCutchen advanced to third with one out. With the tying run at third and one down, Villanueva caught Pedro Alvarez looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Villanueva walked Russell Martin. After the first pitch to Inge, Martin took second on a delayed steal. Inge grounded out to short on a 2-0 pitch to end the inning.

The Cubs could not add to the lead in the fourth and Hector Rondon replaced Villanueva for the fifth inning.

Rondon struck out Jordy Mercer swinging to start the inning. But A.J. Burnett singled to center on a 0-1 pitch. Starling Marte then rolled a 1-1 pitch toward short. Castro fielded, flipped to Barney and forced Burnett but despite a strong, accurate throw from Barney, Marte beat the relay to first. Jose Tabata pulled his second double of the game into left. The ball hit off the wall. Tabata stopped at second as Marte scored the Pirates second run. Rondon then walked McCutchen but with two on and two down, Jones struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Burnett in the fifth … and at the end of five, the game was tied at two.

Pedro Alvarez led off the sixth with an infield single off of Hector Rondon. Rondon jammed Alvarez with a 3-1 pitch and the Pirates’ slugger muscled the ball toward third. But with the Cubs in the shift, Castro had no play. Rondon walked Russell Martin and the Pirates had two on with no outs in the sixth.

Clint Hurdle had Brandon Inge bunt Alvarez and Martin into scoring position. With runners on second and third with one down, Dale Sveum pulled his infield in. Jordy Mercer pulled a 1-0 pitch right to short. Castro fielded the ball and threw home. Alvarez stopped. Castillo ran him back toward third which kept Martin from advancing. Valbuena tagged him out (6-2-5). Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for Pedro Strop. Gaby Sanchez hit for Burnett and Strop struck him out to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the sixth against Tony Watson … and after six the game was tied at two.

Pedro Strop worked around a one-out walk to Jose Tabata in the seventh by inducing a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of McCutchen to end the inning.

Tony Watson made quick work of Barney (strikeout) and Castillo (soft liner back to the mound) to start the seventh. Sveum went to his bench and sent up Hairston to hit for Strop.

Scott Hairston launched a 2-1 pitch from Watson over the wall in left center … and gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead with his eighth longball of the season. Borbon flied out to left center to end the inning.

James Russell took the hill in the eighth and retired Jones on a grounder to first. Pedro Alvarez ripped a single into left and Sveum went to his pen for Blake Parker. Martin popped out to Castro in shallow left and Inge fouled out to Barney in the Pirates’ pen to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing against Vin Mazzaro in the eighth. Mazzaro struck out the side swinging.

Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 3-2 lead. Gregg struck out Jordy Mercer and Travis Snider swinging to start the inning. Starling Marte worked a full count before lining his ninth homer of the season into the bleachers in left center … and just like that the game was tied at three. Gregg walked Tabata but McCutchen smoked Gregg’s first pitch right to Soriano to end the inning.

The Cubs did nothing in the ninth against Mark Melancon and the game went to the tenth all tied up at three.

Matt Guerrier faced the minimum in the tenth after Barney committed his first error of the season. Alvarez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and Barney picked up a Martin grounder up the middle off Guerrier to end the inning.

Dave Sappelt reached on a one-out bloop single to right in the tenth. But with Borbon at the plate, Sappelt was thrown out trying to steal second, the play was not close. Borbon reached on an infield single to first before Castro grounded out to short for the third out.

Matt Guerrier faced the minimum in the eleventh after the Cubs erased a one-out single from Jordy Mercer by turning their second 4-6-3 double play in as many innings.

Anthony Rizzo led off the eleventh with a single to left off Bryan Morris (2-2 pitch). Alfonso Soriano blooped a single into right. Rizzo misread the ball and stopped at second with no outs. Luis Valbuena could not get the bunt down on Morris’ first pitch and fouled it off. Morris missed with his next offering. Valbuena pulled the bat back but Martin saw Rizzo too far off second and tried to pick him off. Martin’s throw ended up in center. Both Rizzo and Soriano advanced ninety feet. Morris then walked Valbuena to load the bases with no outs.

Dioner Navarro hit for Matt Guerrier and lifted a 2-2 pitch to right. Snider caught the ball and threw toward the plate. Anthony Rizzo tagged and scored the game winner standing up …

The Cubs travel to the South Side for a makeup game with the White Sox on Monday night. Weather permitting, Matt Garza is scheduled to face lefty Hector Santiago.

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  • Tom U

    The Cubs had a major coup in signing 24th round pick C Tyler Alamo on Sunday. The 18-year old was expected to go to college but is now joining the AZL Cubs.

    Alamo gives the Cubs a promising young receiver corps with Willson Contreras at Kane Co., 16th round pick Cael Brockmeyer at Boise, and Erick Castillo already in Arizona.

  • Tom U

    The Iowa Cubs face the Albuquerque Isotopes with Ian Stewart in the starting line-up for the “Topes tonight.

    • triple

      “You know me. Sometimes I’ll be quirky.”

      -Homer Simpson

  • paulcatanese

    Best defensive game Castro has had from start to finish in a while. Plus!
    Rizzo again was leaning out at second base, caught a break with the throw. Even!
    Hairston, another home run, don’t know what to say. Plus!
    Pitching staff outpitched the Pirates. Plus!
    Sappelt has to know how fast he really is. Minus!
    Good all around game, and a nice win.
    P.S. Anyone know if the game will be televised tomorrow?

    • Steve Baier

      Looks like it’s on The U, as the station in Des Moines that picks up U broadcasts is promoting it.

  • triple

    So I made a post in the last “talkin’ cubs live” thread about my take at where the big league team is at this point of the “rebuild,” following today’s win against the Pirates. I hope Neil doesn’t mind if I copy/paste it here as I realize that this is the most current thread and it’s unlikely to be seen by most. Anyway, here it is below, as I figure it may promote some good discussion from all sides of how we are viewing the rebuild:

    Great win by the Cubs today… they didn’t give in. Also, I think having Villanueva be able to step into the starters role again is a nice plus, and really softens the blow of the Feldman trade (not like that was a big blow to the team), but also goes to show that Theo/Jed have learned from last years sell off to be better prepared. When/if Garza goes, hopefully Baker will be able to pitch, or Rusin can get some more experience taking the hill in the big leagues.

    The Cubs have now won 5 of their last 7 series they’ve played. And really, they should have taken the A’s series. If this team can play out the year and weather losing some combination of Garza, Gregg, Soriano and DeJesus while not dropping much further than 10 below .500, I think that would show some major improvement over last years big league team. I think most here see the upgrades that have been happening across the entire farm system and that they are finally creeping into the AA and AAA levels. It will not be much longer until those changes are effecting the big league club. Hopefully the FO can build on what they did to prepare the roster for this year and provide one for ’14 that is more ready to compete, especially with the bullpen. Even with a team like this years that has so many holes, if the bullpen was more reliable, they’d be a .500 team or better.

    Having said all that, I’m glad we won’t have to draft like a .500 or better team next year. We can still use another top 7 (or better) pick, and the slot money exception that comes with a higher draft. But I’m sure that the FO can find more good starters to rebuild the rotation for next year, and like I said, hopefully some better bullpen pieces, and maybe next year’s team can be somewhat of a surprise for some of us.

    • paulcatanese

      Oh, you can bank on a surprise, look at today, Hairston hits the go ahead home run and was a hero for about two, three hours and was traded just a little while ago.
      The team is a surprise already, don’t have to wait for next year.
      I never believed the old saying ” you can’t tell the players without a scorecard” but I guess it’s true.

      • triple

        Ha! Great Paul… Because I just read your reply to my post from my email, you’ve actually broken the trade news to me. I love it!