Felipe Vazquez struck out Javier Baez for the final out of the bottom of the eighth inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates continued their hot start with an 8-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Chicago’s home opener Tuesday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Vazquez, who changed his surname from Rivero on Monday, entered with the bases loaded and a five-run lead and notched his fourth save.
He gave up a two-strike single to Jason Heyward but quickly struck out Baez, who hit a pair of solo homers off Ivan Nova.
Baez recorded his second regular-season multi-homer game. He also hit two homers off Alex Wood in Game 4 of last season’s NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Francisco Cervelli hit a three-run homer and Nova (1-1) pitched seven effective innings as the Pirates improved to 8-2 for their best 10-game start since 1992. The Pirates also moved to 4-0 on the road for the first time since 2003.
Sister Jean threw out the first pitch and Loyola-Chicago men’s basketball coach Porter Moser along with his players sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch, but it was a festive showing for the Pirates.
Starling Marte added a solo homer off Tyler Chatwood (0-2) while Corey Dickerson had three hits, including a two-run double. Josh Bell also reached base safely for the 10th straight game and added an RBI double while Jordy Mercer chipped in an RBI single.
Nova (1-1) allowed three runs and seven hits. He struck out six without issuing a walk and threw 102 pitches in his 70th career victory.
Kyle Schwarber added an RBI single for the Cubs, who were the last team to play their home opener.
Chatwood allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings, striking out seven and walking one.
Chicago took a 1-0 lead on a single by Schwarber in the first but missed a chance for more when Willson Contreras was tagged out at third after the Pirates challenged.
Pittsburgh tied the game in the second on a base hit by Mercer, but Baez hit a first-pitch fastball to the last row of the right-field bleachers with two outs in the second for a 2-1 lead. The Pirates took a 4-2 lead on Bell’s double to left and Dickerson’s double up the middle in the third.
Marte made it 5-1 by lifting a 1-0 fastball into the left-center field seats in the fourth. Cervelli gave the Pirates an 8-2 lead when he drove a four-seam fastball from Mike Montgomery into the center field seats with two outs in the seventh.
Baez hit his second homer by lining a 2-0 fastball into the left-center field seats after Nova retired 14 of the previous 17 hitters.
—Field Level Media