CHICAGO (AP)—A pair of pinch hitters came through in the clutch for the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Todd Walker started the Cubs’ rally in the ninth with a walk off Brian Bruney (1-3). Rookie Matt Murton sacrificed pinch-runner Ronny Cedeno to second, Jose Macias followed with a walk and pinch-hitter Barrett singled to left to drive in the tying run.
Ramirez, who didn’t start because of a strained right quad, then knocked a chopper into left and Macias dove headfirst into home as the Cubs poured out of the dugout in celebration.
“I knew I was going to hit at some point,” Ramirez said. “I just wanted to make him (Bruney) throw strikes. He had walked two previous guys and I was ahead 2-0 in the count.”
Although Barrett had reached base in 30 of his previous 61 plate appearances, he wanted to bear down as a pinch hitter.
“I’ve had some pretty nerve-racking at-bats lately, especially pinch hitting,” he said. “I wanted to improve today on my pinch-hitting.
“One of the things I just told myself the whole game is if I get in there today is I just want to swing at a good pitches,” he added. “I feel like I’ve been swinging at a lot of pitches out the zone. Today I focused on hitting a pitch in a good hitting area.”
Roberto Novoa (3-3) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the win. Bruney got his fourth blown save.
“To be a successful closer in this game, you can’t walk the leadoff guy, ever,” said Bruney, who has issued 28 walks in 38 innings. “My team battled today, came back and gave us an opportunity to win the game. I let them down today.”
Prior intentionally walked Luis Gonzalez to face the slumping Glaus, who had only one hit in his previous 23 at-bats. But the Diamondbacks third baseman singled sharply to left on an 0-2 pitch to drive in both runners.
“I was trying to go low and away and it wasn’t a good pitch,” Prior said. “They (the Cubs) really bailed me out after some stupid pitches. It was great to watch the ninth inning.”
Arizona’s Javier Vazquez gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked two. After allowing a two-run homer to Henry Blanco in the second, Vazquez retired 15 of the next 17 batters.
“Javier held us in there against a guy (Prior) who was rolling,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “It would have been nice to get him a win.”
Shawn Green cut Arizona’s deficit to 2-1 with a groundout in the seventh. Tony Clark led off with a double, moved to third on an error by Cubs center fielder Jerry Hairston and scored on Green’s grounder to second.
Prior, who faced the Diamondbacks for the first time in his career, allowed three runs and seven hits in 7 1-3 innings while striking out eight and walking two.
After Counsell led off the game with a double, the Cubs ace retired 13 of his next 15 batters.
“I had good stuff and didn’t use it as effectively as I could have,” Prior said. “I’m not happy about that.”
Blanco’s homer to left on a 3-2 pitch culminated an 11-pitch at-bat and gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the second. He fouled off three pitches with the count full before his fourth homer of the season.
Murton tripled with one out in the fourth, but was stranded at third after Macias flied out to center, Blanco was walked intentionally and Prior popped to second.
Ramirez is expected to start on Saturday. … Murton started in left field and went 1-for-3. He is 15-for-32 since being called up from Double-A West Tenn. … Cubs RHP Kerry Wood, on the DL with shoulder inflammation, threw in the bullpen before Friday’s game. He’s expected to pitch a simulated game this weekend, then be assigned to the minors for rehabilitation. … SS Nomar Garciaparra, also on the DL, was at Wrigley Field for a pregame workout and batting practice. The Cubs are expected to announce additional rehab plans for him on Saturday.