Wood punches out nine Bucs in losing effort

Wood punches out nine Bucs in losing effort

Wood punches out nine Bucs in losing effort
CHICAGO -- Did you stay awake?

It was late night at Wrigley Field on Monday, as Starling Marte hit a two-run triple to help the Pirates beat the Cubs, 3-0, in a game that wrapped up at 1:28 a.m. CT.

"That's probably the latest I've ever started a game and the latest I've ever been pitching," Cubs starter Travis Wood said.

Wood threw the first pitch at 10:42 p.m. as the start was delayed three hours and 37 minutes due to rain. It was the latest start in Wrigley Field history, and the latest a game has begun and ended here since July 26, 2005, when the Cubs faced the Giants, and Greg Maddux threw the first pitch at 9:48 p.m. CT. Maddux picked up his 3,000th strikeout in that game, and play ended at 1:16 a.m. CT.

This was the Pirates' last trip to Chicago, and they do not have an off-day for the rest of the season, which is why the two teams waited for the weather to clear. The fans who waited out the rain in the upper deck were moved to the lower level so some of the ushers could go home. The announced crowd was 33,017, but there seemed to be more players in the two dugouts than the bleachers. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts stayed, posing for photos with fans.

Alfonso Soriano practically knew everyone's name in the left-field bleachers.

"I could hear them and their phones, whatever they said about the game," Soriano said. "It was a funny night tonight.

"It's weird -- wait for three hours and a half, and then play the game," he said. "Weird one. I never waited that long to play one game."

Kevin Correia (11-9) struck out the side in the first, and finished with six punchouts over seven scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, both singles by Darwin Barney, as the Pirates split the four-game series.

"You know when the game starts at 10:40, 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. "If you can pound the zone with quality pitches, you're going to have a decent outing, usually."

Pittsburgh had two on with one out in the third against Wood, and both scored on Marte's triple to left. Marte then scored on Jose Tabata's double. Wood (6-12) struck out a career-high nine batters, but also took the loss, giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings.

Neither team mustered much offense.

"I think you can chalk it up to sitting around and waiting around all day," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Both teams seemed like in a little bit of a daze out there. The pitching wasn't."

The Cubs did strike out a season-high 15 batters in the game. Wood didn't make any excuses.

"I don't think [the delay] had anything to do with it," he said of his outing. "It was a long wait, but you just prepare yourself for the ballgame. Correia threw outstanding, I had to battle, and they came out on top."

Next up for the Cubs are the Reds, who had checked into their hotel long before Monday's first pitch. They'll be rested for Tuesday's night game.

"That's a nice ballclub," Sveum said of the Reds. "That's the same kind of ballclub we saw in Washington. You make mistakes and they have a chance to beat you up. It's a really good ballclub and that's why the Reds and Washington have the best records in baseball."

The Cubs had a tough time against the Nationals, who swept a four-game series Sept. 3-6 in Washington, and outscored Chicago, 31-10. The Reds' magic number to clinch the National League Central is at five.

"Nobody wants anybody to clinch on your turf, that's for sure," Sveum said. "It's inevitable that they'll clinch, you just don't want them to do it in your place."

The Cubs also have a magic number of five. Five more wins, and they avoid a 100-loss season.

"It's a goal for these guys, because they started talking about it a couple weeks ago about not losing 100 games and it's their motivating factor, as well as all of us," Sveum said. "Nobody wants to be associated with that. To be able to sit back and knock people out of the playoffs, that's what you get motivated for in September when you're not in it yourself."

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