Cubs 10, Pirates 9, 1st game; Pirates 10, Cubs 6, 2nd game
PITTSBURGH (AP)—Despite scoring 16 runs in nearly seven hours of baseball, the Chicago Cubs did the one thing they didn’t want to do during their long night in Pittsburgh: lose ground.
Craig Wilson and Rob Mackowiak drove in two runs each and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Chicago 10-6 Friday night in the second game of a doubleheader, dropping the Cubs 1 1/2 games out of the NL Central lead.
Houston stayed atop the division by beating St. Louis 8-1. The Cubs, who could have moved into first with a sweep and a Houston loss, have eight games to play. The Astros have nine remaining.
The Cubs overcame Pirates rookie Jason Bay’s eight RBIs to win the opener 10-9, but still lost a half-game in the standings.
“You lose a game now and it seems overwhelming, but we can’t hang our heads because we lost the second game,” Moises Alou said. “We’ve got to come back and try to win Saturday and Sunday—and hope Houston loses a few.”
“We know exactly what they’re fighting for,” Jack Wilson said. “We’re scoreboard watching, too. We played them two good games and we hope to carry that through the weekend.”
The Cubs, trying for their first doubleheader sweep of the Pirates since July 4, 1980, took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Sammy Sosa’s 535th homer—one short of Mickey Mantle, who is 10th on the career list.
Sosa’s 36th homer came off Salomon Torres, who shattered Sosa’s batting helmet with a fastball on April 20, the last time the two opposed each other in Pittsburgh. That scary moment left Sosa shaken but uninjured.
But Juan Cruz (2-6), previously 3-0 against Pittsburgh, didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the inning. Jack Wilson singled and Stairs walked in front of RBI singles by Craig Wilson and Mackowiak, Rivera’s double off reliever Dave Veres and Jose Hernandez’s sacrifice fly.
“They’re swinging the bats real well right now and they’re playing hard,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “What was the combined score? 19-16? That was like a football score.”
Mackowiak added an RBI single in the sixth against Shawn Estes, who pitched in relief for the first time in 217 career appearances. Jack Wilson had a two-run single in the seventh off Antonio Alfonseca.
Torres (6-5) won for the first time in 10 starts since beating Arizona on May 17 despite allowing seven hits and three runs in five innings.
In the opener, Bay homered twice and drove in eight runs, one short of Pittsburgh’s record, but the Cubs won despite blowing a five-run lead.
Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton, dealt by the Pirates to the Cubs in July, drove in five runs during a six-run third that put Chicago up 9-4. Ramirez hit a two-run homer, his 24th, and Lofton had a bases-loaded triple.
Bay, a rookie outfielder acquired from the Padres in the trade for Brian Giles, had more RBIs in his first three at-bats than he did previously in his 21-game major league career. He hit a grand slam in the second, a two-run shot in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth, all off Carlos Zambrano.
Bay’s eight RBIs were the most by a Pirates player since Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner drove in eight against Brooklyn on June 25, 1950—a game started by Dodgers ace Don Newcombe.
Bay couldn’t remember having such a game, even in Little League.
“Some days you have a feeling that everything slows down and your swing is where it needs to be,” he said. “I was going up there with a simple plan, to see a fastball and hit it.”
If Zambrano hadn’t thrown a run-scoring wild pitch just before Bay doubled in the fifth, the rookie might have tied Johnny Rizzo’s club record of nine RBIs against St. Louis on May 30, 1939. That performance also came during a doubleheader, but in Game 2.
Bay struck out swinging against reliever Kyle Farnsworth with the bases empty in the seventh to finish 3-for-4.
“That’s as fine a game as I’ve seen in a long time,” Baker said.
Bay went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the second game.
Coming into the twinbill, Bay had two homers and six RBIs in 55 career at-bats—all but eight at-bats with the Pirates. He had one homer and four RBIs in his first 17 games with Pittsburgh.
Bay’s big game rallied the Pirates from deficits of 3-0 and 9-4, but they couldn’t overcome starter Josh Fogg’s poor start. The right-hander gave up nine runs and nine hits in 2 1-3 innings after winning four of his previous five decisions.
Zambrano had a better game at the plate than on the mound, with a double in the second ahead of Mark Grudzielanek’s RBI single and a single in the third. He gave up nine runs—six earned—and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He hadn’t given up more than two earned runs in any of his previous eight starts.
“I’m not a machine,” Zambrano said. “You’re going to have bad games like today.”
Veres (2-1) got three outs for the victory as five Cubs relievers combined for 4 1-3 shutout innings. Mark Guthrie, Farnsworth and Mike Remlinger followed Veres before Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his 31st save in 35opportunities.
Zambrano was 7-2 with a 1.61 ERA over his previous 11 starts. … According to Canada’s baseball Hall of Fame, Bay’s eight RBIs are the most by a Canadian-born player in a major league game. … The Pirates’ 82nd loss assured them of an 11th consecutive losing season. … The Cubs are 14-5 in September…. Sosa and Ramirez were the only Cubs players to start both games.