CHICAGO – Josh Harrison punched out two more key at-bats for the Pirates on Saturday night helping lead the club to a 5-3 win at Wrigley Field.
Harrison stroked a two-run home run and an RBI single, Jordy Mercer homered for a second consecutive game and the Pirates capitalized on a second solid outing by Vance Worley on the way to victory.
Worley went 6 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and three earned runs. He also struck out four to earn his first win with the Pirates after a two-hour rain delay pushed the first pitch back to 9:15 p.m. He was efficient, throwing 89 pitches, 68 for strikes.
“It’s nice to have a win,” Worley said. “But all we can do is go out there and play and give it everything we have. For the most part me and Russell [Martin] were on the same page again tonight. The last couple of innings I elevated the ball a little bit, as far as off-speed stuff … The more consistent you can be it’s not only going to make myself feel better but the team feel confident behind me.”
The win bumps up the Pirates‘ record to 36-38. The Cubs fell to to 31-41. The two teams will meet today at 2:20 p.m. for the series’ rubber match.
It took a two minute, 15 second review in the sixth inning to ensure Gregory Polanco had in fact legged out a two-out infield single that extended his hitting streak to 11 games. He was initially called out by first base umpire James Hoye, but after a manager’s challenge the call was reversed.
Harrison was the next batter up and smoked a slider over the right center field wall to give the Pirates a 5-2 lead.
“I was on deck and when I saw them call him out I knew Clint was going to challenge that,” Harrison said. “From my point of view looked like he was safe. We know we get on base we can make things happen. I happened to be in position and got a pitch and didn’t miss it.”
Hurdle said he was fairly confident Polanco was safe when he made a beeline to the field to challenge.
“He looked safe, so you go out,” said Hurdle. “As sure as you are you don’t know until you know. It turned out to play very big for us. Josh Harrison with another solid night. He rolled his ankle after his second at-bat again, but was able to stay in the game and drive in three runs in a five-run game for us.”
The Pirates took the game’s first lead when Mercer hit his solo shot to left field that put the Pirates up 1-0 in the third inning.
“His month of June has been very solid,” said Hurdle. “He’s getting his swing off, he’s playing solid defense, the confidence is growing. It’s fun to watch him get in the box now with more intent.”
Worley had put the Cubs down in order through three innings before giving up a leadoff single to Chris Coghlan in the fourth.
Two batters later, Anthony Rizzo drove a curveball over the right field wall to put the Cubs up 2-1. It was clocked at 78 mph.
“I remember it very well,” said Worley. “I think he was sitting off speed and we were trying to go back door to him because he was on the plate today. After that we gave it to him.”
The Pirates regained the lead in the fifth inning on a pair of RBI singles by Harrison and Andrew McCutchen.
Harrison’s single up the middle broke an 0-for-11 skid, and drove in Mercer to tie the game 2-2.
McCutchen followed it with a single to drive in Polanco, who had gotten on base with a walk. That put the Pirates up 3-2.
Darwin Barney blazed out of the batters box to lead off the bottom of the fifth and doubled on a line drive to center field, just beating the tag.
But Worley stranded him there with a strikeout and pair of groundouts that included a sharp comebacker to end the inning.
Eli Whiteside doubled in a run in the seventh and that was it for Worley.
“Very efficient again,” said Hurdle. “The number of pitches, the outs he was able to get. A lot of first pitch strikes, 20 of 26. Fifteen hitters retired in three pitches or less. Pounded the strike zone and gave us a real good effort.”
Jared Hughes entered the game with two runners in scoring position and got a pop-up in one pitch to get out of the jam.
Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Mark Melancon, promoted to closer on Friday, struck out the side in the ninth for the save.
The Pirates chased Cubs starter Travis Wood from the game after just 4 2/3 innings, after he gave up three earned runs on four hits and three walks. He struck out four.
McCutchen stole second base in the fourth inning, but came up grimacing. The Pirates training staff went out to evaluate him, and he stayed in the game.
The Pirates will send Brandon Cumpton (2-2, 5.82 ERA) to the mound to face right-hander Jason Hammel (6-4, 3.02 ERA) for today’s series decider.
Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and on Twitter: @JennMenendez.
First Published June 22, 2014 12:00 AM