EditorsNote: Tweaks 2nd, 3rd grafs
Albert Almora Jr.’s two-out single in the bottom of the 10th inning plated the winning run as the Cubs blew a big lead but came back to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 Wednesday, shortly after Chicago clinched a playoff berth.
The Cubs (92-66) snapped a two-game losing streak and retained a half-game lead over the Brewers (92-67) in the National League Central. Milwaukee’s 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals earlier Wednesday night guaranteed that both the Cubs and the Brewers will be in the postseason.
Almora’s single followed a four-pitch walk to Ian Happ to lead off the inning against Richard Rodriguez (4-3), a sacrifice bunt by Mike Freeman and a groundout by Victor Caratini that sent pinch runner Terrance Gore to third base.
Reliever Brandon Kintzler (3-3), the seventh Chicago pitcher, induced a double-play grounder from the one batter he faced to earn the win.
Neither starting pitcher figured in the decision.
Chicago’s Jose Quintana allowed two runs (both on home runs) on four hits over five innings while striking out four and walking none. The Pirates’ Ivan Nova lasted just four innings, surrendering six runs (five earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts and two walks.
The Pirates, down 6-1 after four innings, charged back with a run in the fifth inning, two in the eighth and two in the ninth. The game went to extra innings after Starling Marte’s two-out, ninth-inning double off Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s glove drove in Kevin Newman and Kevin Kramer.
Pittsburgh struck in the top of the first as Jose Osuna ripped a two-out solo home run over the left field fence for a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs answered in the bottom of the frame as Jason Hayward ripped a two-run dinger to left-center field that plated Rizzo, who had singled.
Rizzo’s sacrifice fly in the third allowed David Bote to add to the lead. Later in the frame, Kyle Schwarber walked with two outs and the bases loaded, giving the Cubs a 4-1 cushion.
Javier Baez singled home Daniel Murphy in the fourth and then scored on Heyward’s two-out single later in the inning, expanding the Cubs’ edge to 6-1.
Corey Dickerson’s solo homer in the fifth cut Chicago’s advantage to 6-2. The Pirates then rallied in the eighth as Elias Diaz’s two-run, bases-loaded single followed three walks, setting the table for Pittsburgh to tie the game in the ninth.
—Field Level Media