Cubs 4, Pirates 2
Derrek Lee drove in three runs and the Chicago Cubs, propped up by Maddux’s first effective start this season and Garciaparra’s productive day at the plate, rallied to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 Sunday.
The Cubs (6-6) won for the second straight day and are .500 for the first time since being 3-3, an uneven start reflected in Maddux’s 5.62 ERA and Garciaparra’s .182 average.
“These times happen, they happen to everyone and you understand it the more and more you play,” Garciaparra said. “You just roll with it.”
Maddux felt the same way after shutting down the Pirates over six innings, except for a four-batter stretch in the third that saw them score twice—runs the Cubs felt shouldn’t have scored.
“I didn’t have a problem with that one inning, to be honest,” said Maddux, touched for four home runs and eight runs in 10 innings in his first two starts. “I felt good—they hit a lot of balls at people and we scored enough.”
The Pirates wish they could say the same thing. They have scored a major league-low 37 runs while starting 4-8 for the first time since 2001, the last time they lost 100 games. They also have dropped 10 of 11 to the Cubs dating to last season—partly because they repeatedly couldn’t get a big hit over the final three innings Sunday.
“Someone’s got to come through to get us out of this funk,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “But 12 games doesn’t convince me we can’t do this.”
Left-hander Mark Redman’s strong start—he allowed only one earned run over the first seven innings—and first hit in 32 at-bats helped put the Pirates up 2-0, but they couldn’t hold the lead.
Lee, who has a .364 average despite being a notoriously slow starter, had an RBI single following Aramis Ramirez’s double in the fourth. Garciaparra added a sacrifice fly in the sixth before chasing Redman with a single in the eighth, following Jerry Hairston’s one-out single. Two batters later, Lee made it 4-2 with his third successive hit, a go-ahead two-run single off Salomon Torres.
“He talked himself into having a good April before he got here,” manager Dusty Baker said of the unexpectedly hot Lee. “His timing’s good, he’s swinging good and we had the right man up today in the right spot.”
Garciaparra sounds like he’s trying to talk himself out of his poor start.
“The thing that pleased me was getting that guy in from third (on the sacrifice fly),” he said. “You know when you’re not feeling your best at the plate and you’re struggling, but you try to still do the little things to help the team.”
Mike Wuertz (1-0) got the victory by pitching a scoreless seventh, but it was Maddux’s strong outing that gave the Cubs’ staff a big lift. He retired the final 10 batters he faced, giving up two runs and five hits in six innings.
The Pirates’ only scoring came after second baseman Hairston’s offline throw pulled first baseman Lee off the bag on Jack Wilson’s single, but Lee insisted he tagged Wilson for what would have been the third out. Jason Bay then hit a run-scoring double.
“I definitely tagged him. Even he (Wilson) said so,” Lee said. “Oh, yeah, he was out. I think the umpire (Tony Randazzo) was looking at my foot and not expecting the tag play, but I definitely tagged him.”
The Cubs bullpen pitched three scoreless innings after Maddux was lifted for a pinch-hitter, with Chad Fox getting Rob Mackowiak to fly out with runners on first and second to end the eighth. LaTroy Hawkins pitched the ninth for his second save in as many days, after the Cubs blew their first three save opportunities this season.
Redman gave up four runs, three earned, and six hits in 7 1-3 innings. He allowed only an unearned run in 15 innings in two previous career starts against the Cubs.
Maddux was the first 300-game winner to start in Pittsburgh since the Giants’ Steve Carlton won there 9-0 on July 26, 1986. … Maddux, who turned 39 last week, is 24-13 in his career against Pittsburgh. … Maddux, 305-175 in his career, still needs two victories to tie Mickey Welch for 19th place in career wins. … The Pirates wore their new alternate pinstripe jerseys for the first time. The black pinstripes do not include a yellow stripe, as the Pirates’ 1970s-era uniforms did. … Both of Wuertz’s career wins are against the Pirates. He also beat them on Sept. 15.