4/4 Cubs 3, Pirates 2
Carlos Marmol most likely will keep it interesting in the ninth inning the rest of the season. At least, he listened to his pitching coach. The Pirates had two on and one out in the ninth Thursday, and had closed to within two runs against Marmol, who had been pulled from Monday’s game after failing to convert a save. Chicago pitching coach Chris Bosio then went to the mound. The message?
“Strike him out and get a ground ball,” Marmol said, “and that’s exactly what happened.”
Well, not exactly. Marmol gave up a RBI single to Gaby Sanchez, then struck out Pedro Alvarez and finally got Neil Walker to ground into a game-ending double play as the Cubs held on for a 3-2 victory Thursday, taking the first series of the season.
Said Dale Sveum on Marmol: “He was OK. It didn’t seem that way, but it wasn’t too bad.”
The Cubs didn’t exactly solve their offensive struggles Thursday, but were more efficient. Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run home run with two outs in the ninth and Starlin Castro delivered a two-out RBI single in the third to back Travis Wood, who tossed six scoreless innings.
The Cubs entered the game 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in their first two games. Castro ended the skid in the third. With two outs and Wood at second after a single and groundout, Castro delivered a RBI single to center off James McDonald (0-1). Schierholtz homered in the ninth off Jared Hughes, and drove in Anthony Rizzo, who had walked and stole second. It was Schierholtz’s first home run since Aug. 1, when he connected off current teammate Edwin Jackson, who was pitching for the Nationals at the time.
With the win, the Cubs claimed their first season-opening series victory since the start of the 2009 season, when they took two of three against the Astros.
“Our goal is to win every game, and win every series,” Schiernholtz said. “It’s a good start.”
— Carrie Muskat