CHICAGO (KDKA/AP) — One day after the Pirates blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning to the Chicago Cubs, they reversed the trend by overcoming a late inning deficit of their own.
As a result of their 5-4 victory Sunday, the Pirates have taken two out of three games from the Cubs on Opening Day weekend at Wrigley Field.
It was Pedro Alvarez who drove in two runs with an infield single off closer Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning to complete the rally.
With Chicago up 4-3, Garrett Jones led off the ninth with a walk against Marmol (0-1) and Neil Walker singled before Lyle Overbay sacrificed to put runners at second and third.
Alvarez hit a slow roller to shortstop Starlin Castro. As Jones raced home, Castro’s throw to first pulled Carlos Pena off the bag and Walker rounded third. Pena threw to the plate, but Walker made a hard slide under Cubs catcher Geovany Soto to score the go-ahead run.
The Pirates also prevented Matt Garza from getting a victory in his Cubs debut. He left with the Cubs up 4-3 after allowing 12 singles and striking out 12 in seven innings.
Garza, who struggled this spring, came over in a trade from Tampa Bay after winning 15 games last season for the Rays in the tough AL East. He did not walk a batter.
For the Pirates, Jeff Karstens (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Joel Hanrahan the ninth for his second save, getting Marlon Byrd to hit into a game-ending double play after an error by Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno helped the Cubs put runners at first and third.
Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf gave up eight hits in six innings, including a tying double to Pena in the fourth when his high drive hit the ivy in right field and Jones couldn’t make a leaping catch as a fan’s drink splashed over the wall.
Alfonso Soriano homered in the sixth against Ohlendorf to put Chicago up 4-3. The Cubs thought they had preserved that lead when right fielder Tyler Colvin made a strong throw to cut down a potential run in the eighth.
Lyle Overbay had an RBI single in the fifth to put the Pirates up 3-2. But Castro’s leadoff triple and a sacrifice fly by Darwin Barney tied it in the bottom half.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases against Kerry Wood in the eighth but Colvin caught Jose Tabata’s medium fly and made a perfect throw to the plate to nail Jason Jaramillo for a double play to end the inning.
The Cubs had loaded the bases with no outs in the second on consecutive singles by Barney, Byrd and Aramis Ramirez.
As Jones leaped for Pena’s high drive, a fan who was hoping for a catch spilled his drink. The liquid splashed over the wall in Jones’ direction, the cup appeared to land in the basket just above the fence and Pena made second on the two-run double that tied the game at 2.
It was not immediately clear if the liquid distracted Jones in his attempt to catch the ball. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle went out to question the umpires for several minutes before returning to the dugout. Ohlendorf settled down, got two outs and after an intentional walk to Colvin loaded the bases, retired Garza on a roller to first to end the inning.
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen was scratched from the game with a stiff neck after making a diving attempt Saturday at a ball off the bat of Zambrano.
The Pirates now head to St. Louis for three games against the Cardinals starting Monday at 8:15 p.m. Then, they head back to Pittsburgh for the home opener at PNC Park on Thursday.