Game Eight – Cubs 7, Pirates 5
WP – Jason Hammel (2-0) LP – Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) Save – None
On a night with the wind blowing out, the Cubs hung on and beat the Pirates. The Cubs built a 7-1 lead behind an excellent game from the offense and a dominant performance by Jason Hammel over the first six innings. The Pirates started chipping away in the seventh and hit four solo home runs that cut the Cubs lead to 7-5. Pedro Strop struck out the last two batters in the ninth to end the game.
Jason Hammel pounded the strike zone early in the game, kept everything down and retired the first 12 batters he faced. Pedro Alvarez collected the first hit off Hammel leading off the fifth. Alvarez’s first home run of the night tied the game at one. But Hammel did not let the longball rattle him and kept executing his game plan. Hammel faced only one over the minimum through six innings and ended up allowed three runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts. All three runs off Hammel scored on solo home runs and he threw 96 pitches, 60 for strikes, over seven solid innings. Hammel recorded eight groundball outs.
Jason Hammel picked up the win in his first ever start at Wrigley Field.
Hector Rondon pitched a scoreless eighth. But Pedro Strop served up two solo home runs (Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin) before striking out Neil Walker and Travis Ishikawa to end the game.
The Cubs offense pounded the baseball on Wednesday night. Of the 14 hits the Cubs recorded, nine went for extra bases and every starter collected at least one hit.
Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-5 with a double and two runs scored) and Justin Ruggiano (1-for-4 with a double, a walk, a RBI and a run scored) combined on the Cubs’ first run in the first inning. Bonifacio singled and scored when Ruggiano pulled a double into the left field corner.
Mike Olt (2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI) had a big game. Olt hit a two-run homer off of Wandy Rodriguez in the fifth that broke a 1-1 tie. And Olt singled in Ruggiano with the Cubs’ sixth run in the sixth. Junior Lake (1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) went back-to-back with Olt in the sixth. Lake’s first homer of the season ended up on Waveland.
Anthony Rizzo (4-for-5 with two doubles, a RBI and two runs scored) recorded his fourth straight multi-hit game and tied a career high with four hits on Wednesday night. Rizzo hit his first doubles of the season, one off a righty and the other off a lefty, with his improved approach at the plate. Rizzo set up the back-to-back jacks by Olt and Lake in the fifth with a two-out single off of Wandy Rodriguez. Three of Rizzo’s four hits came off of lefties.
Starlin Castro (1-for-5) hit the ball on the nose in three of his five at bats and looks like the confident player he was a couple of years ago … both in the field and at the plate.
What will be lost from Wednesday’s game is the two-hit performance turned in by Welington Castillo. Castillo went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.
Rick Renteria won his second replay challenge of the season in the sixth inning. Junior Lake was called out at first on the backend of a 5-4-3 double play that would have ended the inning. Lake appeared safe in real time and it was confirmed on replay. Renteria asked the umps to look at the call and the ruling was overturned. Anthony Rizzo scored the Cubs’ seventh run when the call was overturned.
Starlin Castro was excellent in the field once again and Darwin Barney showed why he won the Gold Glove. Castro and Barney took hits away from the Pirates that kept Hammel out of trouble.
The Cubs and Pirates scored a combined 12 runs on 20 hits with seven home runs.
With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 3-5 on the season.
Emilio Bonifacio led off the Cubs’ first with a single to right (0-1 pitch). Starlin Castro flied out to right center. Justin Ruggiano pulled a 1-0 pitch from Wandy Rodriguez into the left field corner. Bonifacio scored all the way from first on Ruggiano’s first hit in a Cubs’ uniform … 1-0 Cubs. Rizzo struck out swinging and Olt grounded out to third, with Ruggiano running into Alvarez for the third out.
The game remained 1-0 Cubs until the fifth inning. Jason Hammel retired the first 12 batters he faced to start his outing.
Pedro Alvarez led off the fifth and lifted a 1-2 pitch into the wind. The ball ended up in the bleachers in left center and tied the game at one. Hammel retired Martin (grounder to short), Walker (flyout to deep center) and Ishikawa (swinging strikeout) to end the inning.
Starlin Castro lined out to right to start the Cubs’ fifth. Rodriguez struck out Ruggiano swinging for the second out. Rizzo fell behind quickly 0-2. Anthony Rizzo worked the count back to even then singled to left center to keep the inning going for Mike Olt. Olt lifted Rodriguez’s first pitch up into the breeze. The wind grabbed the big league fly ball and carried it into the basket in left … 3-1 Cubs. Junior Lake stepped in and crushed a 2-0 pitch from Rodriguez. The ball got out of Wrigley in a hurry and ended up on Waveland Avenue … 4-1 Cubs. Welington Castillo followed with a double into the right field corner. After Rodriguez intentionally walked Darwin Barney, Hammel struck out swinging to end the inning.
Jason Hammel made quick work of the Pirates in the sixth. Hammel retired the side in order and faced just one over the minimum (18 of 19 batters retired) after six innings. Hammel threw 74 pitches, 48 for strikes, over the first six innings.
Jeanmar Gomez took over for Rodriguez in the sixth and Emilio Bonifacio greeted him with a double to left off the vines in left center. Castro grounded out to short, Bonifacio advanced to third and held when Ruggiano worked a walk. Anthony Rizzo drove a 1-1 pitch into the gap in left center. The ball hit off the garage door, Bonifacio strolled in … 5-1 Cubs. With runners on second and third following Rizzo’s first double of the season, Mike Olt went with a 1-1 pitch and drove the ball into right past the drawn-in infield. Ruggiano scored, 6-1 Cubs. Junior Lake shattered his bat and appeared to hit into a 5-4-3 double play, but Lake hustled down the line and beat Walker’s throw. Lake was called out and Rick Renteria asked for the play to be looked at. The call at first was overturned, Rizzo scored and the Cubs took a 7-1 lead. Castillo struck out swinging to end the inning.
Jason Hammel’s one-hitter did not last for long in the seventh. Travis Snider made it a 7-2 game with a wind-aided homer to center to start the inning. Hammel struck out McCutchen for the first out. Pedro Alvarez grounded out to Olt in short right field. The play was scored 5-3 with Olt in the shift for the second out. Russell Martin lined a 3-1 pitch from Hammel into the bleachers in left center … and the Cubs lead was down to 7-3. After Hammel walked Neil Walker, Ishikawa struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing in the seventh and the game went to the eighth with the Cubs up 7-3.
The bullpens kept both teams off the board in the eighth. Pedro Strop took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs up by a score of 7-3. Strop retired McCutchen on a grounder to short. Pedro Alvarez followed with a home run to center … and Russell Martin hit his second longball of the night into the basket in left center. After a quick review confirmed the ball hit in the basket and bounced out, the Cubs lead was down to two runs. Pedro Strop struck out Neil Walker and Travis Ishikawa swinging to end the game.
Travis Wood takes on Gerrit Cole in the series finale on Thursday afternoon (1:20pm CDT).