Cubs and Hammel Nail Down First Win – Cubs 3, Pirates 2

Game Three – Cubs 3, Pirates 2

WP – Jason Hammel (1-0) LP – Wandy Rodriguez (0-1) Save – Pedro Strop (1)

wflag-pub2014The Cubs posted their first victory of the season on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park and handed Rick Renteria his first win as a big league manager. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Anthony Rizzo and the first career home run by Mike Olt. But the Pirates trimmed the Cubs lead to 3-2 in the seventh on a two-run single by Tony Sanchez. Brian Schlitter retired Pedro Alvarez on a comebacker to end the eighth and Pedro Strop faced the minimum in the ninth to nail down the win.

Jason Hammel gave his new skipper exactly what he needed, a long quality outing on Thursday afternoon. And he was rewarded with a win in his Cubs’ debut. Hammel found a rhythm after a 20-pitch first inning and put together a quality start. Hammel threw strikes and kept the Bucs off the bases. Hammel retired 13 in a row before issuing a two-out walk to Neil Walker in the seventh inning. Hammel’s only free pass ended his afternoon and ended up costing him a run. Hammel left the game with one on after tossing 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Jason Hammel ended up being charged with one run on two hits with one walk and five strikeouts. Hammel threw 98 pitches, 61 for strikes, in 6 2/3 innings.

The only run Hammel was charged with scored after he turned the game over to the bullpen. James Russell was allowed to face a right-handed batter and Russell gave up a two-out double to pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez that set up the two-run single by Tony Sanchez off of Justin Grimm. Grimm survived a shaky eighth inning thanks to Brian Schlitter and Pedro Strop closed out Thursday’s victory. The bullpen did a rather good job throughout the three-game series, with a few costly exceptions.

Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored) collected two more hits, stole another base and scored two more runs without being picked off first base. Bonifacio singled and stole second in the first inning and scored on a two-out single to left by Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a RBI). Bonifacio led off the third with a double. After a Starlin Castro (1-for-4) single advanced Bonifacio to third, he scored the Cubs third run on a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Justin Ruggiano (0-for-4).

The Cubs managed seven hits on the afternoon and went 2-for-3 with RISP while leaving only three runners on base.

The Cubs improved to 1-2 on the season with Thursday’s win in Pittsburgh.

Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with a single to left. After Starlin Castro flied out to deep left center, Justin Ruggiano fouled out to Neil Walker. Bonifacio took off for second with Anthony Rizzo at the plate (1-0 pitch). Bonifacio swiped the bag (fourth of the season) and ended up in scoring position with two down. Rizzo delivered a single to left (2-1 pitch) off of southpaw Wandy Rodriguez. Bonifacio scored, 1-0 Cubs. Junior Lake grounded out to short to end the inning.

Mike Olt made it 2-0 Cubs in the second inning when he drove a 3-2 pitch that was down and away over the wall in right field … his first big league home run. Rodriguez retired Baker (groundout to short) and Hammel (strikeout) to end the inning. The Cubs made Rodriguez work in the first two innings. Rodriguez needed 41 pitches, 29 for strikes, to get through two innings.

After Hammel retired the Pirates in order in the second inning (33 pitches for Hammel after two, 19 for strikes), Emilio Bonifacio led off the third with a double to right. Starlin Castro followed with a single to right. Bonifacio held at third with no outs. Justin Ruggiano grounded in to a 1-6-3 double play. But Bonifacio scored from third, 3-0 Cubs. Rizzo lined out to right to end the inning.

The game remained 3-0 Cubs through the sixth and into the seventh. Jason Hammel did his job and struck out Andrew McCutchen to start the seventh. After Pedro Alvarez lined out to left, Hammel issued a two-out walk to Neil Walker. Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Hammel and went to his pen for James Russell with Travis Ishikawa due up. Clint Hurdle countered with Gaby Sanchez. Russell stayed in to face the right-hander, and Sanchez doubled to left. With runners on second and third with two out, Renteria went back to his bullpen for Justin Grimm. Tony Sanchez ripped a 2-2 pitch back up the middle. Walker and Gaby Sanchez scored, 3-2 Cubs. Tony Sanchez advanced to second on Bonifacio’s throw to the plate. Jordy Mercer flied out to Ruggiano in right to finally end the inning.

After Justin Grimm and Brian Schlitter worked out of a jam in the eighth, the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a 3-2 lead.

Neil Walker reached on a single to right to start the inning. Clint Hurdle decided to give away an out and had Gaby Sanchez try to bunt Walker into scoring position. The decision backfired on Hurdle when Sanchez popped the bunt up and Strop caught the ball as he collided with John Baker. Tony Sanchez hit a blooper back to the mound that Strop caught then ran halfway to first before tossing the ball to Rizzo to complete the 1-3 game ending double play.

The Cubs open the 100th season of Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, weather permitting, with the first of three games against Ryne Sandberg’s Phillies. Travis Wood is scheduled to face Roberto Hernandez.

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