Sanchez, Pirates end 16-inning night as Cubs fall to 0-2
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Sports Reporter April 3, 2014 12:28AM
PITTSBURGH – After 26 innings of near-even baseball, the Cubs have nothing to show for three days in Pittsburgh.
If it didn’t already look like this was going to be a long season, the Cubs added extra innings each of the first two games, both losses to the Pirates – this time 4-3 in 16 innings on pinch-hitter Tony Sanchez’s walkoff single through a drawn-in infield.
At 5 hours, 55 minutes, it was the longest game in Pittsburgh major-league history.
The Cubs lost despite out-hitting the Pirates 15-8 – mostly because of a 1-for-16 performance with men in scoring position.
It was the second walkoff hit allowed by Carlos Villanueva in as many games after Sunday’s scheduled starter was pressed into duty in the 15th inning because of a lack of available pitchers.
The only players who went unused by the Cubs were Monday’s starting pitcher, Jeff Samardzija, and Friday’s scheduled starter, Jason Hammel.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead in the top of the 12th, with his first homer of the season, but new Cubs closer Jose Veras melted down in his Cubs debut in the bottom of the 12th.
After getting the first out of the inning, Veras walked and hit the next two batters. A fielder’s choice later, he gave up a tying single to Starling Marte, then walked pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez to load the bases for Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen struck out swinging at a 3-2 curve ball.
Marte’s hit was only the fourth of the game for the Pirates, who were out-hit by the Cubs 13-4 at that point.
The Cubs trailed 2-0, without a run in the first 17 innings of the season, until manager Rick Renteria’s successful challenge of a wide throw at second on what was initially ruled a 4-6-3, inning-ending double play.
Renteria immediately called for the play to be reviewed. And after a 2 minute, 24-second review, the out at second was overturned, giving Schierholtz an RBI on the play – and giving the Cubs their first run of the season.
The Cubs went 0-for-8 with men in scoring position in the game until Luis Valbuena’s game-tying single to right with two out in the ninth and runners at the corners.
The Cubs finished 1-for-16 with men in scoring position in the game – 1-for-27 through two.
The bright spot offensively continued to be new leadoff man Emilio Bonifacio, who followed his 4-for-5 performance in Monday’s opener with a 5-for-7 on Wednesday. He also drew just his third career intentional walk in the 11th with first base open and one out.
And he was picked off first base for the second straight game (three times total, counting a first-inning play Monday in which the first baseman dropped the throw for an error.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson, trying to put his worst season in six years behind him, pitched well enough to retire 10 straight at one point and keep it a 1-0 game before walking two in the sixth and leaving with one out.
“He’s a guy that’s not new to the major leagues,” Renteria said. “He’s had some success at the big-league level, and we’re just looking for him to hopefully rebound and chip away and keep him going in a positive direction.”