CHICAGO -- Pedro Alvarez and Anthony Rizzo went tit for tat in Sunday afternoon's game at Wrigley Field. They both homered in the fifth inning. After Alvarez hit a three-run shot in the sixth, Rizzo raised him a base-runner.
Rizzo's first career grand slam helped give the Chicago Cubs a 13-9 win against the Pirates Sunday, a game in which the Pirates blew leads of 6-1 and 9-5. The Pirates, who won Saturday after losing seven games in a row, fell to 73-72. They must win nine of their final 17 games to finish with 82 wins.
The first of Rizzo's home runs came against starter Jeff Locke, who allowed two balls to leave the yard for the second consecutive game. The second came off Jared Hughes, the second Pirates pitcher in a row Sunday that did not record an out.
Rick van den Hurk came on in relief to start the sixth inning with a 9-5 lead. He allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases before manager Clint Hurdle removed him for Hughes.
Darwin Barney hit an RBI single before Rizzo smoked a 3-1 pitch to right-center field for his 14th of the season, clearing the bases and putting the Cubs ahead 10-9. Hughes has allowed two runs in two of his past three appearances, a span of two-thirds of an inning.
Home runs shortened Locke's outing. Joe Mather hit the first pitch he saw to left-center field in the fifth, and Rizzo homered to center with a man on two batters later to cut the Pirates' lead to 6-4.
Alfonso Soriano singled after Rizzo, the fourth consecutive hit in the inning, and Hurdle removed Locke. He pitched 41/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits.
Alvarez hit a long opposite-field home run in the three-run fifth inning, taking an outside fastball from Chris Volstad over the bleachers in left. He did it again in the sixth, when the Cubs brought in lefty Jeff Beliveau to match up against him. Alvarez hit Beliveau's hanging curveball onto the street for his 29th of the season.
The Pirates stole four bases against Volstad and Welington Castillo, a battery that lacks proficiency in catching base-runners. Volstad had allowed 13 of 15 runners to steal successfully this season and Castillo threw out only six of 29 runners.
Volstad allowed the Pirates' offense to keep churning, giving up 10 hits on 100 pitches through 42/3 innings. He walked four batters and allowed six runs.
Rod Barajas hit his 10th home run of the season, a low, curving shot down the left-field line in the second, to score Clint Barmes to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
The Pirates had men on first and third in the seventh, trailing by a run, but ran themselves out of the inning. Starling Marte tripled, his second triple in two days, and Garrett Jones walked with two outs. The Pirates tried a delayed double steal, but Cubs pitcher Jaye Chapman stepped off. Chapman did not release the ball, but Marte broke for home and was caught down the third-base line to end the inning.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published September 16, 2012 10:45 PM