Game Eighty-Five – Cubs 4, Pirates 1
WP – Edwin Jackson (5-10) LP – Charlie Morton (1-2) Save – Kevin Gregg (15)
The Cubs snapped their two-game losing skid behind a big day from Alfonso Soriano and beat the Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Edwin Jackson put together a decent outing before turning the game over to the bullpen. James Russell, Matt Guerrier and Kevin Gregg faced just one over the minimum over the last 3 1/3 innings to close out the victory.
Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI) was the Cubs’ offense on Saturday. Soriano hit not one but two, two-run homers that accounted for all four of the Cubs’ runs. Soriano took Charlie Morton deep in consecutive at bats. The first two run homer came in the fourth with Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) on board after he doubled to start the inning. Julio Borbon (0-for-2 with two walks, a run scored and two stolen bases) walked to start the fifth, stole second and ended up at third after a Rizzo groundout. Soriano followed with a big fly that ended up in the back of the left field bleachers.
The Cubs managed seven hits on Saturday and put the leadoff runner on in each of the first five innings. Welington Castillo (2-for-2 with a double and a walk) and Luis Valbuena (2-for-3 with a walk) both reached base three times.
Edwin Jackson picked up his fifth win of the season after allowing one run on four hits with two walks, a wild pitch and three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings. Jackson pitched his way out of a couple of early jams before giving up a solo homer to Pedro Alvarez in the fourth. Jackson ran out of gas with two on and two out in the sixth after throwing 96 pitches, 55 for strikes.
James Russell struck out Pedro Alvarez to end the sixth with two on to preserve the lead. Matt Guerrier made his first appearance in a Cubs’ uniform at Wrigley Field and retired all six batters he faced. Guerrier struck out two of the six batters on 16 pitches, 12 for strikes.
Kevin Gregg picked up his 15th save after allowing a leadoff single to Andrew McCutchen in the ninth.
Alfonso Soriano moved up the All-Time Home Run list and the Cubs’ All-Time Home Run list on Saturday when he took Charlie Morton deep in the fourth inning. Soriano passed Frank Howard and Jim Rice and tied with Larry Walker for 60th on the all-time list with 383 home runs. Soriano’s eleventh of the season was the 175th time he hit a longball in a Cubs’ uniform. Soriano passed Andre Dawson into 12th place for the most home runs in the history of the organization.
Alfonso Soriano recorded the 32nd multi-home run game of his career in the fifth inning. Soriano launched Morton’s first pitch to the back of the bleachers in left field. Soriano moved ahead of Larry Walker and is now tied with Harold Baines for 59th on the All-Time Home Run list with 384.
With Saturday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 37-48 on the season.
The Pirates and Cubs could not cash in on early opportunities. The Cubs put the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings and Starling Marte kept running on the Cubs and ended up at third with one out in the first but the Pirates could not drive him in. Edwin Jackson needed 57 pitches, 32 for strikes, to complete the first three innings.
Edwin Jackson retired McCutchen on a grounder to short and Jones on a grounder to Rizzo for the first two outs in the fourth. Pedro Alvarez lined a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in left center and gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead on his 22nd longball of the season. Michael McKenry grounded out to third to end the inning.
Anthony Rizzo ended a 0-for-13 skid with a double off the wall in left to start the fourth. Rizzo just missed a home run. Soriano squared to bunt on Morton’s first pitch and took it for a strike. Alfonso Soriano lifted Morton’s next pitch into the bleachers just to the left of center. Soriano’s 11th dinger of the season gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Luis Valbuena followed Soriano’s homer with a hard single to right. Morton then hit Schierholtz with a 0-2 pitch and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs. But Darwin Barney rolled into a 6-3 double play. With Valbuena at third, Morton intentionally walked Castillo to put runners on the corner with two down. Edwin Jackson grounded out to short to end the inning.
After four complete, the Cubs had a 2-1 lead.
Edwin Jackson set the Pirates down in order in the fifth. Jackson threw 80 pitches, 46 for strikes, over first five frames.
Julio Borbon walked to start the fifth inning. Castro lined out to short for the first out. Borbon then called time just before Morton delivered the first pitch to Rizzo. Rizzo flied out to right center but the pitch did not count. Borbon stole second on the first official pitch to Rizzo then advanced to third when Rizzo grounded out to Mercer in the shift behind second base. But it would not matter …
Alfonso Soriano stepped in and launched Morton’s first pitch. The ball ended up in the back of the bleachers in left and Soriano’s 12th longball of the season, his second two-run homer of the day, put the Cubs up 4-1. Valbuena grounded out to second for the third out.
Luis Valbuena and Anthony Rizzo made excellent plays to take away a hit from Starling Marte to start the sixth. Marte chopped a 1-2 pitch down the third baseline. Valbuena fielded it, made a strong low throw to first that Rizzo scooped for the out. Jackson struck out Brandon Inge for the second out.
Andrew McCutchen blooped a single into right. Jackson then issued a two-out walk to Garrett Jones. With Pedro Alvarez due up representing the tying run, Sveum went to his pen for James Russell. Alvarez struck out swinging to end the inning.
Welington Castillo reached with a two-out double in the sixth but Scott Hairston hit for Russell and struck out swinging to end the inning.
After six complete, the Cubs led 4-1.
Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect seventh and eighth innings and Kevin Gregg took over in the ninth with the Cubs up 4-1.
Andrew McCutchen led off the ninth with a single to left center. Garrett Jones flied out to deep center for the first out. Borbon caught the ball on the track, near the wall for the first out. Soriano hauled in a deep fly on the track off the bat of Pedro Alvarez for the second out. Gregg then retired Michael McKenry on a pop out to Schierholtz in right to end the game.
Carlos Villanueva makes his return to the rotation to face A.J. Burnett in the series finale with the Pirates on Sunday afternoon.