Pirates Beat Cubs 6-5 As Ngoepe Becomes First African-Born Player In MLB

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gift Ngoepe, the first African to reach the major leagues, singled in his first plate appearance and Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a home run Wednesday night to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Ngoepe was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and entered the game in fourth inning as part of a double switch and finished 1 for 2 with a walk. The 27-year-old South African, who signed with the Pirates in 2008 as an amateur free agent, led off the bottom of the fourth with a hit off winless Cubs ace Jon Lester.

A year after winning 19 games in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, Lester (0-1) is still looking for his first victory after five starts. The left-hander was tagged for six runs — five earned — and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Wade LeBlanc (1-0), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of rookie Tyler Glasnow, got the win.

The fifth leadoff home run of Harrison’s career keyed a two-run first that included an RBI double by Francisco Cervelli. Andrew McCutchen and Phil Gosselin hit run-scoring doubles in a three-run third that pushed the Pirates’ lead to 5-1.

After the Cubs got within two runs, Josh Bell gave the Pirates a 6-3 lead with a solo home run in the sixth inning off Lester. The rookie first baseman has reached base in 11 straight games.

Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer deep into the right-field stands in the eighth inning off Daniel Hudson drew the Cubs within 6-5. Tony Watson then got the last four outs for his seventh save in as many chances.

Glasnow remained winless in nine career starts, allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings and requiring 89 pitches to get 10 outs.

Rizzo had four RBIs and Kris Bryant had three hits as the Cubs lost for just second time in eight games. The Pirates won for the third time in nine games.

HISTORY MAKER DEPARTS

RHP Dovydos Neverauskas was optioned to Indianapolis to make room on the roster for Ngoepe. In a loss Monday night, he became the first Lithuania-born player to pitch in a major league game.

CUBS SHUFFLE ROTATION

Taking advantage of a day off on Thursday, the Cubs moved RHP Kyle Hendrick up a day in their rotation and he will pitch Sunday night against the Red Sox in the finale of a three-game series at Boston. LHP Brett Anderson has been moved back a day and will start Monday night against Philadelphia.

A RARE WIN

The Cubs’ 1-0 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday night marked the first time since 2011 they won a game without an RBI. The lone run scored on a throwing error by rookie 2B Alen Hanson in the second inning.

STILL GOING STRONG

PNC Park usher Phil Coyne, who turns 99 on Friday, was honored in a pre-game ceremony. He began his ushering career in 1936 at Forbes Field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: RF Ben Zobrist (back stiffness) got the night off but should return Friday night at Boston. OF Jason Heyward moved to right field from center field and OF Jon Jay started in center.

Pirates: 3B David Freese (sore right hamstring) missed his second straight game but could return Friday night when the Pirates open a three-game series at Miami after having Thursday off. Harrison again started at third base while Gosselin played second.

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65 ERA) starts Friday against LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60). Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth inning the last time he faced the Red Sox on June 30, 2014, at Fenway Park and wound up allowing one hit in 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts.

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (1-0, 2.13) faces the Marlins for the first time in his career Friday and will be opposed by LHP Adam Conley (1-1, 3.00).

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