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Pirates 3, Cubs 0

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Wandy Rodriguez was truly the ice man Wednesday night.

On an evening when the game temperature was 35 degrees and the wind was blowing out to center field at 17 mph, the Pittsburgh Pirates left-hander cooled the Chicago Cubs' bats as he combined with two relievers on a two-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory at PNC Park.

Rodriguez (1-0) allowed both two hits, singles by Alberto Gonzalez in the third and Alfonso Soriano in the seventh. Rodriguez also struck out six and walked one in his first start of the season.

Tony Watson retired all four batters he faced and Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth inning to convert his first save opportunity of the season as he takes over at closer for All-Star Joel Hanrahan, who was traded to Boston in the offseason.

Rodriguez was in control until the late innings, not allowing the Cubs to get a runner to third base until the seventh inning.

Down 2-0, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out. Rodriguez hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch, gave up a single to Soriano then hit Welington Castillo.

Rodriguez struck out Brent Lillibridge with a 3-2 backdoor slider then yielded to left-hander Tony Watson, who escaped the jam by getting Gonzalez to hit an inning-ending fly out to center field.

The Pirates then added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh when Clint Barmes hit a double down the left-field line that bounced into the stands and scored on Starling Marte's one-out single.

The Pirates opened the scoring with a two-run fourth inning off Edwin Jackson, who was making his Cubs' debut after signing a four-year, $52-million contract as a free agent in the offseason.

Garrett Jones led off with a single and scored on Andrew McCutchen's line-drive double into the left-field corner. McCutchen took third on Pedro Alvarez's ground out and scored when shortstop Starlin Castro misplayed Gaby Sanchez's grounder for an error.

Jackson pitched five innings and allowed two runs on three hits while walking one and striking out five.

NOTES: Lillibridge played third base, Dave Sappelt was the starting center field and Scott Hairston was in right with Chicago facing the left-handed Rodriguez. The Cubs plan to limit the exposure of center fielder David DeJesus and right fielder Nate Schierholtz against lefties. ... The Cubs signed a pair of left-handed hitting veterans, infielder Donnie Murphy and outfielder Mark Sweeney, to play at Class AAA Iowa. ... Chicago right-hander Matt Garza, who is on the disabled list with a strained left lat muscle, is expected to join the team in Atlanta this weekend then take part in the home opener ceremonies before returning to the Cubs' spring training base in Mesa, Ariz., to continued his rehab. ... Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke, who is scheduled to make his season debut Sunday when he faces the Dodgers at Los Angeles, pitched six innings in an intrasquad game at the Pirates' extended spring training camp in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday and threw 91 pitches. ... The Pirates are hopeful right-hander Jeff Karstens (right shoulder inflammation) can start playing catch by the weekend. ... Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano (broken right upper arm) threw 20 pitches of batting practice on Tuesday and right-hander Charlie Morton (Tommy John surgery in June 2012) threw 35 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday at Pirate City. Both are expected to come off the disabled list sometime in May. ... Pittsburgh right-hander Jose Contreras (Tommy John surgery in June 2012) is scheduled to pitch in his first extended spring training game on April 15.
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