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Hammel, Cubs hold off Pirates

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Jason Hammel got his first taste of Wrigley Field's quirks -- giving up three solo home runs on a breezy night -- but otherwise allowed little else while winning his debut at the landmark ballpark.

The right-hander led the Chicago Cubs to a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

"I hope (Wrigley's) much kinder next time," said Hammel, a 31-year-old veteran who joined the Cubs in February as a free agent. "When the wind's howling out, you've got to keep the ball down. I made three mistakes today, and they all left the yard. But when you're spotted a 7-1 lead, you can stay more aggressive in the zone and try to get quick outs, and that's what I tried to do tonight."

First baseman Anthony Rizzo helped pile up some of those runs for Hammel, tying a career high with four hits and adding two runs and an RBI.

Third baseman Mike Olt went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, center fielder Emilio Bonifacio finished 2-for-5 with two runs, and catcher Welington Castillo also had two hits as the Cubs snapped the Pirates' two-game winning streak.

Five of Pittsburgh's six hits were solo homers, two apiece from third baseman Pedro Alvarez and catcher Russell Martin and one from right fielder Travis Snider.

Hammel (2-0) departed with a 7-3 lead after working seven innings. He gave up three hits and one walk while striking out six.

The Pirates narrowed the margin with two ninth-inning solo homers off reliever Pedro Strop, who closed out the win.

"We had some well-struck balls, and they did there too at the end," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "It was a good night to hit."

Pirates left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) was lifted for a pinch hitter after working five innings. He allowed four runs on nine hits, walked three and struck out six. Rodriguez gave up two home runs.

Rodriguez made his second start of the season after he was sidelined the final four months of 2013 due to pain and discomfort in his throwing arm.

"The line doesn't look as good as we think we saw," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You've got to remember how long (Rodriguez) has been away from the mound. He feels healthy, the first pitch strikes were good, a little more consistency and location.

"I thought all in all it was an optimistic outing for him."

Rodriguez said, "I think tonight I had only one big mistake -- a changeup on a home run. I feel very good. My curve was good, my changeup I used a lot."

The Cubs led 4-1 entering the sixth when Bonifacio doubled to lead off against right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez and advanced to third on Starlin Castro's ground out to short.

After Gomez walked right fielder Justin Ruggiano, Rizzo doubled to the left field wall to bring home Bonifacio for a 5-1 lead. Olt made it 6-1 with a one-out RBI single that scored Ruggiano.

Replay officials in New York then reversed part of a Pirates double play in the sixth, ruling that left fielder Junior Lake beat a throw to first with two outs, allowed Rizzo to score for a 7-1 lead.

Snider clubbed his first homer of the season to open the seventh. That cut the Cubs' lead to 7-2, and Martin followed a two-out homer later in the inning to make it 7-3.

Alvarez and Martin each went deep in the ninth.

NOTES: A victory Thursday would give the Pirates three consecutive winning series to start a season for the first time since 1992, when they captured six series in a row. ... Pirates LF Starling Marte, who went 0-for-4 came into Wednesday with hits in each of his last nine games played in Chicago, going 26-for-72 (.361) with three doubles, three triples, three home runs and nine RBI in 17 games. ... Pirates RHP Mark Melancon owns the longest active streak of innings pitched without allowing a home run (67). ... Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (1-0, 2.57 ERA) makes his second start of the season Thursday against Cubs LHP Travis Wood (0-1, 4.26 ERA). ... Cubs 2B Emilio Bonifacio is the first major-leaguer in the modern era (since 1900) with one hit, two hits, three hits, four hits and five hits in his first seven games of a season. His 17 hits were the most by any Cub in the first seven games in the last 100 years.
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