Game Three – Cubs 3, Pirates 2
WP – Travis Wood (1-0) LP – James McDonald (0-1) Save – Carlos Marmol (1)
The Cubs hung on in the ninth inning and beat the Pirates 3-2 on Thursday afternoon in the Steel City. The Cubs posted the first series win of the season (2-1) behind an excellent start by Travis Wood and just enough offense.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the ninth. Jared Hughes started the ninth for the Bucs and made quick work of Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a RBI). Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base) walked and held at first when Alfonso Soriano struck out swinging. Nate Schierholtz (1-for-3 with a home run, two RBI and a walk) stepped in with two down.
Anthony Rizzo swiped second on a 2-1 pitch to Schierholtz. The Cubs’ new right fielder then smoked a 3-1 offering over the wall in center. Schierholtz’s first homer as a Cub gave his team a 3-0 lead … and a much-needed cushion for the bottom of the ninth.
Cubs’ pitching held the Pirates to only one hit and two walks over the first eight innings … but that all changed in the ninth. Carlos Marmol struggled once again but was able to escape a first and third no out jam after allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. Marmol gave up a leadoff single to Starling Marte, walked Russell Martin then surrendered a single to Andrew McCutchen that plated Marte with the Pirates’ first run. Gaby Sanchez followed with a single to right. Martin scored and McCutchen ended up a third with the tying run. After a visit from Chris Bosio, Marmol struck out Pedro Alvarez swinging and induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Neil Walker to end the game.
Travis Wood had a excellent day on the mound. Wood pitched six innings of shutout ball while surrendering only one hit and two walks. Wood struck out four in his first outing of the season … and also notched the Cubs first hit of the game in the third inning. Wood threw 85 pitches, 54 for strikes, and more than earned his first win of the season.
Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Wood with a two-out single in the third … the Cubs’ first hit with runners in scoring position in three games (2-for-15).
Shawn Camp, James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa picked up where Wood left off. Camp and Russell combined on a perfect seventh while Fujikawa retired all three batters he faced in the eighth with just nine pitches.
The ninth inning aside, the Cubs played a good game … and as the cliche goes, all’s well that ends well.
What will be lost in the near Marmol meltdown is the performance turned in by Travis Wood on Thursday afternoon. Wood kept the Pirates off balance over six innings while allowing only one runner to reach second base. The only real mistake Wood made on Thursday was issuing a free pass to James McDonald with one out in the sixth inning.
The Cubs first run of the game came in the third inning. After Brent Lillibridge lined out to center to start the inning, Travis Wood reached on a single to center … the Cubs’ first hit of the game. David DeJesus grounded a 0-2 pitch to Walker that allowed Wood to advance into scoring position with two outs.
Starlin Castro then delivered the Cubs’ first hit of the season with runners in scoring position (0-for-13 entering play on Thursday). Castro ripped a 2-2 pitch back up the middle and into center. Wood scored and helped hold the one run lead until Schierholtz provided insurance in the ninth.
The Cubs open a three-game series in Atlanta on Friday night. Scott Feldman will face lefty Mike Minor in his Cubs’ debut.