Pirates stave off late rally to edge Cubs

Pirates stave off late rally to edge Cubs

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco smacked a solo home run and Francisco Cervelli hit an RBI double to lift the Pirates to a 4-3 victory over the Cubs, who came up short in a comeback bid on a chilly Wednesday night at PNC Park.

Polanco connected in the fifth off Jason Hammel, who took the loss, only the Cubs' fourth in their last 11 games. Vance Worley picked up the win, holding Chicago to one unearned run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings.

"It's one of those outings that leaves you scratching your head," Hammel said. "I thought I threw the ball well when I needed to and just got unlucky with some of the balls falling in."

The Cubs rallied for wins in the first two games of the series, and loaded the bases in the eighth against Jared Hughes, who gave up an RBI single to Miguel Montero to cut the deficit to 4-2. Another run scored on a fielder's choice by pinch-hitter David Ross against Tony Watson, who escaped the eighth and pitched the ninth, striking out Kris Bryant to end the game. Chicago stranded 10 baserunners.

The game-time temperature was a brisk 42 degrees, and it felt colder in the Cubs' seventh when it started to snow. The precipitation only lasted a half-inning and did not interrupt the game. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he hadn't played a baseball game in the snow since a college game at Penn State.

Wintry mix falls in 7th

Miscues: Last year, the Cubs led the National League in unearned runs, giving up 71. This year, they were the only Major League team yet to surrender an unearned run until the third inning when Andrew McCutchen reached on a fielding error by shortstop Starlin Castro and eventually scored on Pedro Alvarez's sacrifice fly.

Cutch scores on sac fly

Hanging tough: Worley pitched out of a tough spot in the fifth. The Cubs had loaded the bases with two outs and Worley fell behind 3-0 to Bryant but got the rookie third baseman to fly out to right and end the inning.

"He did a very professional job of working through that lineup and making pitches and keeping the ball out of the hot spots," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the right-hander. More >

Worley escapes jam

Yard work: With Polanco's leadoff blast in the fifth, the Pirates have homered in a season-high six consecutive contests. With 16 home runs overall, the Pirates are third among NL teams in that department, trailing the Reds (18) and Dodgers (17).

Polanco's laser solo shot

Mr. Versatility: The Cubs are short-handed on the bench, and Bryant moved to center field on a defensive switch in the eighth. He played two games in left field in Spring Training. Naturally, the first play of the inning by the Pirates was a fly ball to center by Neil Walker, which Bryant caught. More >

Bryant plays center

"We have, I have, Jung Ho [Kang] never had. First time ever. We can ask [Arquimedes] Caminero -- he would be another good guy to ask. That was interesting to say the least. It's a different dynamic here."
-- Hurdle, on playing through a snow squall

"If it's possible to be happy when you lose as a manager, that's me tonight. I could not be more proud of the group. Top to bottom, pitchers, position players, bench, everybody did a wonderful job tonight. We had opportunities. Just the way we played to the last drop -- seriously, that was a great game we played. They got us and we just couldn't get a hit when we needed to, but if we play with that type of intensity and effort on a nightly basis, we'll win a lot of games this year."
-- Maddon

Each member of the Cubs' starting infield is 25 years old or younger. It's the first time they've had an infield that young since one game in 2014 (Anthony Rizzo, Arismendy Alcantara, Starlin Castro and Mike Olt) and in several games in 1976 (Pete LaCock, Manny Trillo, Dave Rosello and Bill Madlock). Second baseman Addison Russell, 21, recorded his first hit on Wednesday in his second big league game. More >

Russell's first Major League hit

Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler had to leave the game after two innings because of tightness in his right groin. Fowler reached on an infield single in the first, and apparently injured himself on that play. He was able to steal second, but then his leg tightened up. More >

Fowler exits with tight groin

The Pirates' Starling Marte had to leave the game after being hit on the right hand in the third. X-rays were negative and he was diagnosed with a soft tissue contusion. More >

Marte exits after HBP

Cubs: Kyle Hendricks closes the Cubs' four-game series in Pittsburgh on Thursday in a day game at PNC Park, with first pitch at 12:35 p.m. ET. It will be Hendricks' third start of the season, and the right-hander is still looking for his first win. In his last outing against the Padres, he gave up two runs on three hits over six innings. This will be Hendricks' first game against the Pirates.

Pirates: Lefty Jeff Locke, who is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, will start for the Pirates. It is Locke's third start of the campaign. In his last outing, he defeated the Brewers, 6-2, hurling eight innings and giving up one run on four hits. Locke is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA in five career starts against the Cubs.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.