Cubs’ Hammel beats Pirates twice in a week
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Sports Reporter April 9, 2014 9:56PM
Updated: April 9, 2014 11:07PM
This was the kind of night it was for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They gave up five home runs to the Pittsburgh Pirates, and still wound up playing music, laughing and provide their own topics of conversation with the media afterward.
“I’ve got a good one for you,” Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel said with a big grin after Wednesday night’s 7-5 victory – just six days after he beat the same team in Pittsburgh.
“I’m going to throw my first baseman under the bus,” Hammel said. “He just congratulated me on my first NL win. I want to make sure that everybody knows that [Anthony] Rizzo was NOT there with us in Pittsburgh last week. … I didn’t’ know I didn’t win at all in Colorado, either.”
Hammel (2-0), the veteran who spent three seasons with the Rockies (27 wins) then two in Baltimore before signing with the Cubs, gave up only three hits in seven innings – all three solo homers, to Pedro Alvarez, Travis Snider and Russell Martin.
Rizzo, who helped a suddenly productive Cubs lineup with four hits Wednesday night, seemed caught off guard by Hammel busting him publicly.
“No comment,” he said, smiling sheepishly. “it was a great atmosphere here after the game. We were very excited. He pitched his tail off, we got him the ‘W’ so that’s nice. And he’s off to a great TWO-win start.”
Rizzo’s inattention to history aside, the Cubs are in position for the first time in three tries to get a series win if they can beat Gerrit Cole and the Pirates in the series finale Thursday.
On a night the wind blew out – and took seven homers with it for both teams – Hammel retired the first 12 batters he faced and 18 of the first 19 before stumbing in the seventh.
“I got my first taste of Wrigley,” said Hammel, who has a 2.63 ERA after two starts. “I hope it’s much kinder next time. When the wind’s howling out, you’ve got to keep the ball down. I made three mistakes today, and they all left the yard. I think a couple of those are outs in other ballparks, but you’ve still got to keep the ball down.”
Alvarez and Martin went back-to-back with another pair of solo homers off Pedro Strop in the ninth.
The way Hammel (2-0, 2.63) has looked in two starts since signing that one-year, “flip” deal in February, he looks capable of either pitching the Cubs out of their early woes – or of getting the Cubs a haul at the trading deadline at least as good as Scott Feldman did last year.
Emilio Bonifacio singled and scored on Justin Ruggiano’s double in the first inning as the Cubs never trailed on the way to their second-biggest offensive night of the young season.
After scoring just eight runs total in their first five games (four of them losses), the Cubs have scored eight, six and seven in their last three games – two of them victories.
Mike Olt and Junior Lake hit back-to-back homers in the fifth as the Cubs scored three in each of the fifth and sixth innings – and manager Rick Renteria said after the game he expects them back in the lineup Thursday.
Olt added an RBI single in the sixth.