PITTSBURGH (AP)—Dusty Baker was largely responsible for bringing utilityman Tom Goodwin to the Cubs. Even if it took six weeks to happen, Goodwin finally justified his manager’s confidence.
Goodwin hit a go-ahead solo homer in the ninth inning—one night after failing in just such a situation—and the Cubs ended a season-high three-game losing streak by beating the Pirates 3-2 Thursday night.
The teams split the rain-abbreviated two-game series. The Pirates have yet to win any of their eight series this season in PNC Park, where they are 7-17.
Goodwin, who played for Baker with the Giants last season, hit Scott Sauerbeck’s 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats with two outs for only his 24th career homer in 14 seasons. It was his third hit of the game, raising his average from .147 to .205, but only his fourth career homer off a left-hander.
The night before, Goodwin struck out with the bases loaded and none out in the ninth, helping Mike Williams pitch out of a major jam as the Pirates held on to win 5-2.
“It’s a funny game; sometimes you’ll wait only a night, sometimes you’ll wait for a year,” Goodwin said. “I got two in the series. I knew it was only a matter of time.”
Before the game, Baker reaffirmed his confidence in Goodwin.
“I know he felt badly after last night,” Baker said. “But I know he can play. He hit the ball hard five times tonight.”
Sauerbeck (0-4) took the loss in relief of Kris Benson, who gave up two runs in eight innings. Goodwin’s homer was the fourth allowed by the left-hander in 26 games, as many as he gave up in 78 games last season.
“I threw a couple of bad pitches and nothing happened and I threw a good one to him and he got the head of the bat on it and found the short porch (in right field),” said Sauerbeck, who threw Goodwin nothing but curveballs. “It was the right pitch to make. It was a good pitch.”
The Cubs won even though starter Matt Clement couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead despite helping himself with his first three hits of the season. He is winless in five starts since beating the Pirates 7-2 on April 18.
Clement and Goodwin singled ahead of Corey Patterson’s two-run double in the third off Benson. But Clement gave the runs back as Sanders led off the bottom of the inning with his eighth homer and Giles led off the fourth with his third homer. It was the second homer in as many nights for Giles, who has five homers in his last seven games against Chicago.
For a minute or two, the Cubs had a 1-0 lead in the second. Eric Karros initially was given a home run on a long fly ball that clearly was foul, but the umpires quickly changed the call after huddling. Karros struck out on the next pitch.
“I didn’t argue very vehemently because, quite frankly, I thought it was foul,” Baker said.
The Cubs squandered a scoring chance in the seventh as center fielder Kenny Lofton ran down Goodwin’s drive into the left-center gap and Clement was thrown out easily at the plate attempting to score on Patterson’s single with two on and two outs.
Lofton doubled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to an NL-leading 20 games, the longest by a Pirates player since Al Martin’s 20-game streak in 1999.
Clement was lifted after allowing six hits and two runs in seven innings. He struck out six and walked two—and raised his batting average from .000 to .188.
Benson, challenged by manager Lloyd McClendon last week to start pitching like a No. 1 starter, lasted an inning longer than Clement despite allowing 11 hits in eight innings. He struck out four and walked two, but now has won onlytwice in his last eight starts.
The two homers were only the 14th and 15th by the Pirates in 24 games in PNC Park, which has yielded only 34 homers this season. … The Cubs’ Alex Gonzalez grounded into two double plays and is 1-for-20 in his last five games. .. The Pirates were denied their first two-game sweep of the Cubs since April 15-16, 1992. … Pirates starters have lasted at least seven innings in 18games, but are only 7-7 in those games.