CHICAGO -- For five hours, Miguel Montero sat on the Cubs bench, watching a seesaw battle against the Pirates at Wrigley Field. The veteran catcher has been relegated to a backup role with the emergence of rookie Willson Contreras, but Montero showed his expertise in the 13th inning.
Anthony Rizzo delivered a game-tying RBI single in the 13th and Montero followed with the game-winning hit, a walk-off RBI single to lift the Cubs to an 8-7 victory over the Pirates in a game that began Monday night and stretched into Tuesday morning.
"The resiliency of our team was incredible," Chicago starter Jake Arrieta said. "Just a crazy ballgame all the way around. So many things happened."
The Cubs were weary after a delayed flight from Los Angeles -- the Pirates played in Milwaukee on Sunday and had a 90-mile drive -- but gutted this one out. Manager Joe Maddon quipped that the Cubs were comfortable because they wore pajamas on their charter flight.
"Look at how they played tonight -- it must have been the onesies," Maddon said. "If you're flying on a charter airplane, and you have onesies on, you feel better the next day."
The Pirates had taken a 7-6 lead in the top of the 13th on Josh Harrison's sacrifice fly. But Dexter Fowler singled off Jeff Locke, who was pitching his fourth inning, and reached third on Kris Bryant's single. The Pirates had intentionally walked Bryant in the 10th to face Rizzo, and got him to hit into an inning-ending double play. This time, Rizzo delivered an RBI single to tie the game. Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked, and Montero slapped a single to left for the game-winner.
"It's one of those situations where you've got to go until something happens. If it's good, we win. If it's bad, we tie and maybe we lose," Locke said. "I wouldn't do it any differently. I would just try to do it better next time."
"I guess they didn't check my stats with the bases loaded," Montero said. "When they load the bases, I feel pretty good about myself."
With the win, the Cubs improved to 20-6 in August, while the loss snapped the Pirates' win streak at four. Chicago is 7-4 in extra-inning games.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the 10th, and thought they had scored the winning run when Javier Baez slid home on Rizzo's fielder's choice. Baez was ruled out, and the Cubs challenged the call but after a review, the call stood. Baez also tripled in the 12th and tried to score on Addison Russell's fly ball to left but again, was thrown out at the plate.
"It was a really, really good ballgame to watch and be a part of. Our guys played hard all night," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "At the end of the day, we came up one run short. We kept pushing. We kept battling. Proud of everybody that took the field."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Start me up: Arrieta had a busy night. He singled in the second, and then battled Pirates starter Steven Brault in a 14-pitch at-bat in the fourth, fouling off eight straight pitches before striking out and earning a standing ovation. In the Pirates' fifth, Arrieta was credited with an assist and a putout in a 1-5-2-6-1 rundown. But in the seventh, Arrieta was not happy with home plate umpire Tripp Gibson's call on ball four to Francisco Cervelli, and told him so. Contreras tried to calm down Arrieta, as did Maddon, who went to the mound as well. Gibson and Maddon then had an animated conversation.
"He's a young umpire," Maddon said. "He'll probably take a good look at the game on video and assess what happened. He's a good guy, but I can only take so much. He's a guy you can talk to. ... At the end of the day, when you're constantly being frustrated, you have to make your point, and I did."
Said Arrieta: "It was a heated moment there but at the end of the day, a couple calls didn't go my way, and you deal with it, and move on."
Game of RISP: The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first when Fowler singled, reached third on a throwing error by Brault and then scored on Rizzo's groundout. Chicago made it 3-0 in the third as Bryant and Rizzo both walked, and one out later, Soler hit an RBI double and Jason Heyward followed with a run-scoring groundout. It was encouraging after the Cubs struggled to drive runners in during their three-game series in Los Angeles, stranding 22. On Monday, the Cubs went 4-for-18 with RISP and stranded 15.
"We had plenty of opportunities, plenty, to win that game in a normal fashion," Maddon said.
Brault called the critical error a "stupid rookie mistake," saying he grabbed the ball with only his thumb and ring finger, panicked and rushed the throw to second base.
"Learn from it moving forward. I know I can field my position," Brault said. "Stupid mistake."
Bell ringer: Bell launched his second Major League homer to left field in the fourth inning, blasting a high fastball from Arrieta just over the left-field fence for the Pirates' first hit of the night. Bell sandwiched the homer between a pair of walks, displaying the eye and on-base percentage that got the rookie bumped up to the second spot in Pittsburgh's lineup. Including his pinch-hit single just before the All-Star break, Bell has made four plate appearances against Arrieta without recording an out.
"Bell took advantage of a pitch early," Harrison said. "Pretty impressive." More >
What a relief: Brault ran up a high pitch count in four innings of work, forcing Hurdle to ask the Pirates' relievers for 15 outs. And Pittsburgh's bullpen, which has transformed from a shaky unit into one of the best in the Majors, was up to the task. Jared Hughes, A.J. Schugel and Felipe Rivero each put up a scoreless inning. Before handing the ball to Watson, Hurdle trusted Feliz with the eighth. Contreras' homer brought the Cubs within one, one of several hard-hit balls in the inning. But Feliz eventually rebounded to escape, striking out Matt Szczur, Fowler and Rizzo.
"We're not going to stop playing hard. This is a team that's trying to win the World Series and we're not going to give up, no matter how many runs we're up or down. I saw [Montero] getting ready, and I said, 'It's going to be you.'" -- Baez
"They don't quit over there. That's a tribute to how well they've played all season and why they're standing where they are." -- Locke, on the Cubs
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Polanco's home run was the 11,000th by a Pirates player since Pittsburgh joined the NL in 1887.
• This loss snapped the Pirates' streak of 139 straight wins when taking a lead into the ninth inning. Their last loss when leading after eight came on April 21, 2015, to the Cubs.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Cervelli came to the plate in the fifth inning with one out and Starling Marte on third base and tapped an 0-2 fastball back to Arrieta, who caught Marte off the bag and fired to Bryant at third base. Marte got caught in a rundown and was eventually tagged out at the plate by Arrieta. Pittsburgh challenged the call on the field, objecting that Arrieta blocked the plate in violation of Rule 7.13 regarding home-plate collisions. But the call was confirmed after a replay review. In the end, the out was scored 1-5-2-6-1.
Crew chief Bill Miller called for another review in the 12th, when Marte threw out Baez at the plate and sent the game into the 13th inning. The call was quickly confirmed, and Marte recorded his 17th outfield assist.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: Rookie right-hander Chad Kuhl will make his ninth Major League start Tuesday night (8:05 ET) at Wrigley Field. After an up-and-down first stint with the Pirates, Kuhl has improved in his second tour, generating 41 ground balls and posting a 2.96 ERA in four outings, all quality starts.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks, who leads the Majors with a 2.19 ERA, will make his 25th start of the season on Tuesday. In 17 straight starts, he's given up three runs or less. He's also 8-1 with a 1.38 ERA in his last 13 outings (12 starts), the best ERA in the Majors in that stretch. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.