It just seemed that way.
The Pirates broke loose at the plate after four straight losses and back-to-back shutouts at Cincinnati. They scored three runs in the first inning, then rallied from a 6-4 deficit to hand Chicago its eighth loss in 10 games. That skid includes a three-game sweep at Pittsburgh last week.
Jones, who’s from suburban Tinley Park, Ill., also doubled and drove in a career-high five runs. He broke an eighth-inning tie with a three-run homer off Carlos Zambrano(notes), connecting right after his long drive was barely foul.
McCutchen hit a solo homer in the ninth, scored five times and stole two bases.
“I guess we were just kind of competing against each other,” McCutchen said, laughing. “I don’t know. I’d get a hit, he’d get a hit. He’d hit a homer, I’d hit a homer. I don’t know, I guess we should do that every time.”
Considering the last time two Pirates collected five hits in a game was when Willie Stargell and Bob Robertson did it at Atlanta on Aug. 1, 1970, they’ll have a hard time.
“It was fun to watch,” Jones said. “The home run he hit went out in about a second. Those lasers he was hitting, he had a great bunt today, so he did it all. It was fun to hit behind him, that’s for sure.”
Zambrano (1-3) came on in the eighth and immediately ran into trouble.
He hit Andy LaRoche(notes) leading off before McCutchen singled. Jones followed with a drive into the tight, right-field corner that was called foul, and Pirates manager John Russell came out to ask about the ruling.
Jones then drove a 3-2 sinker over the right-center field wall for his fifth homer, making it 9-6. And when a double by Ryan Doumit(notes) and single by Lastings Milledge(notes) followed, fans really let Zambrano hear it, showering Big Z with boos.
Sent to the bullpen late last month, he would be “more than happy” to rejoin the rotation, yet he insisted he’ll do whatever the Cubs ask.
“Listen, I was unhappy the first day they told me that,” said Zambrano, who has allowed six runs over 8 2-3 innings in eight relief appearances. “I wasn’t sure it was going to work. But now, I accept it. I’m a reliever now and I have to do my job as a reliever, as a setup man. I’m happy now.”
Alfonso Soriano(notes) had two hits for Chicago, scoring two and driving in two runs. Marlon Byrd(notes) hit a solo homer that made it 6-4 in the fourth, but the Cubs got nothing the rest of the way against four relievers after a shaky start by Brian Burres(notes).
Burres, who pitched three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings in his previous start against Chicago, wasn’t much better, allowing six runs and seven hits in four innings. He had thrown 13 1-3 scoreless innings.
The Pirates came in tied for 28th with Seattle in runs and had gone 19 scoreless innings before getting an RBI single from McCutchen, bases-loaded walk by Milledge and sacrifice fly by Steve Pearce(notes). That lead unraveled in a hurry, but with McCutchen and Jones going a combined 10 for 11 from the third and fourth spots, they pulled this one out.
“We’re capable of scoring runs pretty quickly, but it’s been a struggle for us,” Russell said.
NOTES: Immigrant rights activists protested outside Wrigley Field, saying the Cubs should move their spring training facility out of Arizona. Members of the group are upset with a stringent new immigration law in Arizona that they believe encourages racial profiling. They also don’t like the Arizona Legislature’s failure to fund a new spring home for the team in Mesa. … Pearce left the game in the fifth inning with soreness behind his right knee and was to undergo tests. … Pittsburgh’s Aki Iwamura(notes) is now hitless in his last 24 at-bats after going 0 for 6.
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