Late-night special: Bucs top Cubs after long delay

Late-night special: Bucs top Cubs after long delay

Late-night special: Bucs top Cubs after long delay
CHICAGO -- While you were sleeping early Tuesday morning, Kevin Correia tossed seven shutout innings, Starling Marte legged out another triple and the Pirates gained ground in the race for the second National League Wild Card.

A three-hour, 37-minute rain delay brought forth the latest start in Wrigley Field history before the Pirates outlasted the Cubs and Mother Nature in a 3-0 victory.

The game, which began at 10:42 p.m. CT on Monday, was Pittsburgh's fourth win in its past 16 games and tied the Bucs with the Brewers in the NL Wild Card standings, 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second spot. The Dodgers -- one game back of St. Louis -- also sit between the Pirates and Cardinals, but it's the Brewers who now require Pittsburgh's attention.

The two clubs begin a three-game series on Tuesday night at PNC Park and the Brewers are well rested after an off-day on Monday. The Pirates, meanwhile, won't land in Pittsburgh until about the time the first edition of Tuesday's newspaper hits the stands.

Luckily, Pirates players and coaches used the delay to go over video and prepare for the upcoming series.

"Most of the guys know you're here for a while, so, professionally, they just settled in and waited to play," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

When they finally took the field, Correia (11-9, 4.09 ERA) game-planned around opposing hitters' aggressiveness.

The right-hander opened by striking out the first four batters he faced and was in cruise control for much of the night. He walked the leadoff batter in the third -- who advanced to third on a single -- and allowed a leadoff single in the sixth, but escaped both jams thanks to a pair of double plays.

"You know when the game starts at 10:40 p.m. that hitters are going to be aggressive and it's not going to be a game where you take a lot of pitches," said Correia, who watched TV during the delay. "So if you can pound the zone with quality pitches, you're going to have a decent outing, usually."

Correia's dominance continued after the clock struck midnight in the middle of the fifth inning, and by the time the two West Coast games finished in the sixth. The right-hander allowed two hits -- both to Darwin Barney -- and matched a season high by striking out six while facing one above the minimum.

"You could argue this is the best game he's pitched all year," Hurdle said. "A lot of soft contact, weren't a lot of balls hit hard."

Cubs starter Travis Wood (6-12, 4.25) struck out a career-high nine, but a third-inning mistake proved costly. Wood opened the frame by hitting shortstop Clint Barmes and allowing a single to second baseman Brock Holt. Marte stepped to the plate with one out and ripped a two-run triple to left before scoring on Jose Tabata's double.

"That one inning got me," Wood said. "I would've liked to have kept the pitch count down, but that one inning got me."

It was the third straight game in which Marte tripled, marking the first time a Pirate accomplished the feat since Andrew McCutchen in 2009.

"They come in bunches," Hurdle said. "I think the young man's got an opportunity to possibly lead the league in triples someday. It doesn't have to be hit in the perfect spot for him to get three bases. Today, that's a very aggressive play and he finished it strong. That's the biggest swing of the night for us."

Wood again led off the sixth inning by hitting a batter, this time McCutchen, and was removed after giving up a two-out single to Michael McKenry. Cubs reliever Michael Bowden entered and, after walking Barmes to load the bases, induced an inning-ending groundout from Holt.

The Pirates bullpen, which left the bases loaded in Saturday's one-run win and blew a big lead on Sunday, saved the victory as Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan pitched the final two innings.

The Bucs had a quick turnaround after the game, which ended at 1:28 p.m. CT -- the latest finishing time in Wrigley Field history. The Pirates moved quickly to leave the cramped visitor's clubhouse and get to the airport. They figured to land in Pittsburgh around 5:30 a.m. ET and attempt to get some rest before beginning another big series -- for which they've already started to prepare.

"We had plenty of time on our hands and we thought we were very good stewards with the time that we had," Hurdle said. "Made good use of it."

That's good for the Pirates, because their first showdown with the Brewers is sure to come quick.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.