Game Twenty-Four – Cubs 7, Pirates 2
WP – Jason Hammel (4-0) LP – Gerrit Cole (2-3) Save – None
The Cubs relentless offense kept the pressure on Gerrit Cole and the Pirates staff throughout the game. Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist and David Ross delivered two-out run scoring hits that drove in four of the seven runs. The Cubs swiped three bases, stole a run in the fifth and were given a run in the seventh. Jason Hammel allowed two runs and the bullpen pitched four scoreless innings as the Cubs took the opener of the three-game series at PNC Park.
The Cubs did not score until the third inning but the offense made Gerrit Cole work in the first two innings and ran up his pitch count. The Cubs knocked Cole out of the game with two outs in the fourth inning. Cole made 105 pitches, 61 for strikes, and four of the five free baserunners scored off the Pirates right hander.
Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and a RBI) tied the game with a two-out double in the third that plated Dexter Fowler (2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a run scored). Ben Zobrist (1-for-3 with a HBP, SF, a run scored and two RBI) delivered what would be the game winner. Zobrist singled in Rizzo with a two-out knock to right field.
The Cubs scored four runs in the fifth on a sac fly from Ben Zobrist and a two-out bases loaded bloop single from David Ross (1-for-4 with two RBI). The Cubs stole a run when the Pirates bit on a double steal. Ross took off for second base with Matt Szczur (1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored) at third. Szczur scored when Josh Harrison’s return throw to the plate sailed past Francisco Cervelli.
Tempers flared in the seventh inning and the Pirates ended up giving the Cubs a run.
Ben Zobrist was plunked leading off the seventh in retaliation for Jason Hammel hitting Starling Marte in the bottom of the sixth. Javier Baez (2-for-2) singled. Zobrist went to third and scored on a wild pitch with two outs in the seventh.
The Cubs scored seven runs on 11 hits, five walks and two HBP. The Cubs were 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
Jason Hammel put together a solid outing. Hammel allowed his first home run of the season, a solo shot from Andrew McCutchen in the first inning. Hammel started the sixth inning but Joe Maddon went to the pen after he hit Starling Marte. Hammel gave up two runs on five hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Hammel made 89 pitches, 54 for strikes, in five-plus innings.
The Cubs bullpen shut the Pirates down for four innings in relief of Hammel. Adam Warren, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop and Travis Wood each tossed an inning and hung zeros on the board.
The Cubs’ defense stepped up behind Jason Hammel and the pen. David Ross threw out Starling Marte at second base with help from an incredibly quick tag from Javier Baez. The Cubs turned a double play and simply did not help the Pirates on Monday night.
Matt Szczur left Monday’s game before the bottom of the fifth inning with a tight right hamstring. Javier Baez entered the game and replaced Zobrist at second base. Ben Zobrist moved to the outfield for the first time this season. Zobrist played the last three innings in right field.
Here’s how Monday’s game at PNC Park played out …
With the Cubs down 1-0 after Andrew McCutchen hit a solo homer in the first inning, Dexter Fowler led off the third with a walk. La Stella flied out to right and Bryant lined out to right center. Fowler swiped second on a 2-2 pitch to Rizzo.
Anthony Rizzo pulled a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right center. Fowler scored and tied the game at one on a double by Rizzo. Ben Zobrist singled to right (1-0 pitch), Rizzo scored and the Cubs took a 2-1 lead. Russell could not check his swing on a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
Jason Hammel retired the Pirates in order in the third. After three complete, the Cubs led 2-1.
The Cubs tacked on to the 2-1 lead in the fifth. Kris Bryant worked a one-out walk and went to third on an Anthony Rizzo double off the wall in right. Rizzo just missed a home run. The ball hit 15 feet up the 21-foot wall in right field.
Ben Zobrist did his job with runners on second and third with one out. Zobrist lifted Cole’s first pitch to center. Bryant tagged and scored after McCutchen made the catch … 3-1 Cubs. Cole hit Addison Russell and walked Matt Szczur. With the bases loaded and two down, Clint Hurdle made the slow walk and went to his bullpen. Hurdle replaced Gerrit Cole with A.J. Schugel.
David Ross delivered a clutch two-out hit. Ross blooped a 2-2 pitch down the right field line. The ball landed just inside the line. Rizzo and Russell scored and the Cubs took a 5-1 lead. Szczur went to third on the play.
Ross took off for second base with Hammel at the plate. Cervelli threw to second, Ross stopped as Szczur went down the line from third. Josh Harrison’s throw to the plate sailed, Szczur scored and Ross went to second … 6-1 Cubs. Hammel struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Pirates got a run back in the bottom of the fifth. Jordy Mercer singled to right. Jason Rogers batted for Schugel and walked. John Jaso grounded out to first. Mercer and Rogers moved to second and third. Andrew McCutchen grounded out to third with the infield back. La Stella threw across the diamond as Mercer scored, 6-2 Cubs. Hammel struck out David Freese swinging to end the inning.
After five complete, the Cubs led 6-2.
The Pirates gave the Cubs a run in the seventh after Clint Hurdle decided to retaliate for Hammel hitting Marte in the bottom of the sixth. Kyle Lobstein hit Ben Zobrist to start the seventh. The Cubs barked at the Pirates. Clint Hurdle yelled at Joe Maddon. Both benches were warned and the Cubs got the last laugh.
After Russell popped out to first base, Javier Baez singled to left center. Zobrist went to third and Baez took second on the throw. Ross fouled out to Cervelli for the second out.
Jorge Soler stepped in for Adam Warren and a wild pitch allowed Zobrist to score … 7-2 Cubs. Soler fouled out to third to end the inning.
Justin Grimm hung a zero on the board in the seventh inning after two challenges, one by the Pirates and one by the Cubs delayed the game for more than five minutes.
Pedro Strop and Travis Wood closed out the first game of the season against the Pirates with two scoreless innings.
With Monday’s win, the Cubs improved to 18-6 on the season.
Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face Jon Niese, weather permitting, on Tuesday night (6:05pm CDT) at PNC Park.