Pedro Drives In Three, Pirates Win Game And Series Over Cubs

By Chad Carlson

Lyle Overbay had an RBI this afternoon (Photo Credit: AP)

The stage was set this afternoon at Wrigley Field for the rubber match of the season-opening series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs.  After splitting the first two games of the weekend match-up, the Pirates sent Ross Ohlendorf to the mound for his first start of the season, while the Cubs countered with Matt Garza.
After a hard-fought game with a few errors and big plays made by both teams in crucial situations, the Pirates did exactly what the Cubs did to them yesterday:  rally from behind in the late innings to steal a victory at Wrigley Field.
The Buccos jumped on the board first in the second inning on Ronny Cedeno’s single to centerfield, scoring Pedro Alvarez.  They’d add another run the very next inning when Alvarez smacked a line drive base hit to center, allowing Jose Tabata to score.
After a strong start to the game, Ohlendorf surrendered two runs to the Cubs in the fourth inning off the bat of Carlos Pena, whose double scored Darwin Barney and Marlon Byrd.  After the two teams traded runs in the fifth inning, Alfonso Soriano hammered a solo homerun to centerfield, breaking the tie and giving the Cubs the lead, 4-3 in the sixth frame.
As for Ohlendorf, he pitched a decent game…not great, but he kept his team in the game.  His final stat line read four runs on eight hits, while walking four and striking out three through six innings.
The Pirates left three men on base in the eighth inning when Jason Jaramillo was thrown out while trying to score on Tabata’s sacrifice fly out.  Heading into the final inning, the Buccos still trailed by one run, and all seemed lost with the Cubs’ Carlos Marmol walking to the mound to close out the game.  Chicago’s closer struck out the side against Pittsburgh yesterday to earn his first save, and the team’s first victory, of the 2011 season.
With two runners on and one out, Alvarez smacked a single to the shortstop Starlin Castro, who mishandled and tossed a wild ball over to first base, allowing both Garrett Jones and Neil Walker to score.  The Buccos took the lead, 5-4, in front of a stunned 30,000+ crowd at Wrigley Field.
The Pirates’ Joel Hanrahan came on to save the game, and after getting one out and giving up a weak single to Castro, Barney slapped a ball to Cedeno, which appeared to be a game-ending, double-play ball.  Ronny’s wild throw to Walker sailed wide right, trickling into shallow right, allowing both Cubs’ runners to reach base safely.
Much to the delight of Cedeno and us Pirates’ fans, Byrd smacked a grounder right back to the Buccos’ shortstop who, this time, made a strong (and accurate) throw to Walker and over to Overbay for the double play.  Much to the demise of the Chicago crowd, the Pirates won a dramatic come-from-behind game to capture the opening-series against their beloved Cubbies.
There is A LOT to be said about today’s game, and this series as a whole.  The offense continued to deliver this afternoon, as the team accumulated a total of 16 hits, including three from Alvarez and Tabata, as well as two from Cedeno, Jones, and Lyle Overbay.  On day when Andrew McCutchen sat down (due to soreness) and Neil Walker struck out twice, it was VERY nice to see other players stepping up at the plate and making the opposition work hard for every out.
For the third straight game, the Pirates’ starting pitcher kept the club in the game for at least six innings.  While his performance today didn’t match those of Kevin Correia and Paul Maholm on the previous two days, Ross pitched himself out of some tight jams and, despite the fact that he didn’t earn a tally in the win column today, he did make some nice pitches, earned some tough outs, and certainly had a part in the team’s victory today.
Even though he was involved in the double-play that ended the game this afternoon, we can’t ignore Cedeno’s error the play before.  As was discussed in the podcast, Ronny’s ability to make the acrobatic play but also the tendency to make routine plays difficult was on display today.  The Buccos made the big play today at the end, and they earned this win.  Unfortunately, though, they won’t be given additional opportunities to close out a game like the Cubs gave them today.  Still, it was a strong opening-series performance for the Buccos, and today’s win was a great rebound from the tough loss yesterday. 
The Pirates travel to Missouri next for a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cards avoided a sweep this afternoon against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium with a 2-0 win.  Pittsburgh will send Charlie Morton to the mound for his first start of the season.
Record Vs. N.L. Central:  2-1
Record On The Road:  2-1
Overall Record:  2-1
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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