Polanco's third hit caps Pirates' comeback vs. Cubs
By Carrie Muskat and George Von Benko
PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco hit an RBI double in a three-run sixth inning and a tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 victory over the Cubs on Thursday, and split the four-game series.
"Arguably for us, it's one of the best team wins since I've been here with what we had and what we went out there with and how we were able to battle," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Bryant made his first start in center field, subbing for Dexter Fowler, who was sidelined with a tight right groin. Chicago now has lost back to back games for the first time this season; it was the only team to have not done so.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Penmanship: One day after Maddon said he wanted to use Edwin Jackson in close and tight situations, the right-hander struggled. The Pirates pulled within 4-2 on Polanco's RBI double in the sixth against Hendricks. Jackson entered and failed to retire any of the three batters he faced as Pittsburgh tied the game at 4 on RBI singles by Neil Walker and Jordy Mercer.
"Jackson really wasn't that bad," Maddon said. "It was kind of an unfortunate outing for him." More >
Bombs away: With Rodriguez's solo home run in the second, the Pirates have gone deep in a season-high seven consecutive contests. With 17 home runs overall, the Bucs are tied for third among National League teams in that department, trailing only the Reds (18) and the Dodgers (18).
Mercer Time: After missing three straight games with a bruised chest, Mercer returned the Pirates' lineup at shortstop and delivered a key RBI single in the sixth inning, tying the game at 4.
Glovework: In only his second start of the season, Chris Denorfia robbed Andrew Lambo of a potential extra-base hit with a great leaping catch in the first inning. Denorfia was fully extended when he grabbed the ball in the air and then landed on the warning track. Denorfia opened the season on the 15-day disabled list because of a tight left hamstring, but he looked just fine on the play. More >
"I have no complaints about our team right now. We got beat today. They came back and beat us. We probably took the first two away from them, they took the last two away from us and that's how the division is going to play this year. That's just baseball there. At the end of the day, if you're sitting here, when your team plays with that kind of heart and determination on a nightly basis, you'll take it." -- Maddon
"No, you don't take it personally, but you know you are more focused and you say, 'I want to win this fight.' You want to be ready for every pitch because they walked the hitter before." -- Polanco, on the Cubs' decision to intentionally walk Hart to face him
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Thursday was the second game out of seven in which Bryant was hitless, although he did get an RBI. Bryant went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, but he drew a walk with the bases loaded in the fifth. His only other hitless game was his Major League debut last Friday, when he was 0-for-4.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Jon Lester is still looking for his first win with Chicago, and the southpaw will try to pick it up in a ballpark he's never pitched in. Lester will make his second career start against the Reds and first at Great American Ball Park on Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series. This is a rematch from April 13 when Lester faced the Reds and Mike Leake at Wrigley Field. In that game, Lester received a no-decision, giving up six runs on 10 hits over six innings. The Cubs won that game on Arismendy Alcantara's walk-off RBI single in the 10th. More >
Pirates:Gerrit Cole (2-0, 2.65 ERA) will be on the hill as the Pirates open up a three-game series in Arizona. The D-backs will counter with right-hander Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.38 ERA). The 24-year-old Cole will be making his fourth start of the season. In his last outing, Cole tossed six innings and gave up two runs in a 5-2 win over the Brewers. More >
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.