Cubs win in 12th when Pirates outfielder trips on easy fly
CHICAGO (AP) Matt Szczur merely needed a fly to win the game. He just didn't think - and neither did anyone else at Wrigley Field - that the ball he hit would do the trick.
That is, until Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco took a most startling trip.
Polanco slipped and fell while trying to catch an easy fly, and the ball dropped for an RBI single in the 12th inning that sent the Chicago Cubs over the Pirates 11-10 Friday.
''That's not how we drew it up,'' a stunned Szczur said. ''That's for sure.''
The Cubs won their fifth straight game in unlikely fashion, and matched their longest string since last June.
Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the 12th against Radhames Liz (0-1) and the Pirates went to a five-man infield. Szczur lifted a routine fly to shallow right, surely not deep enough to score the winning run.
Polanco came running in with plenty of time to make the grab, then stumbled to the ground. He reached up with his bare left hand trying to make a play, but had no chance.
Sprawled in the grass, his sunglasses flying off his head, Polanco never came close to touching the ball as Starlin Castro ran home.
''He didn't have to go far to get the ball and then he made a little move to his left and crossed his feet,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''That just took him out of the play, took him down to the ground.''
Said Szczur: ''I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it.''
Polanco wasn't at his locker in the immediate aftermath of the loss.
A crazy ending, considering that in the exact same situation in the 10th - bases loaded, one out - Polanco caught a longer fly by Szczur and threw out Castro at the plate to end the inning.
Given another try, Szczur didn't hit the ball nearly as well, yet wound up in the middle of a celebration after a most bizarre single.
Castro said he was planning on testing Polanco's arm again, even after being thrown out two innings earlier.
''I've got to do it again,'' Castro said. ''When I saw (Polanco moving toward the ball), `I said, I've got to do it here. It don't matter if you make me out at home plate.'''
Edwin Jackson (1-1) pitched the 12th for the win.
Rookie Kris Bryant hit his fourth homer and drove in four runs, helping the Cubs take a 10-5 lead into the eighth inning.
The Pirates scored four times in the eighth on a solo homer by Josh Harrison and a three-run shot from Andrew McCutchen.
Ahead 10-9, Cubs reliever Hector Rondon retired the first two batters in the ninth. Harrison followed with a double, moved up on a wild pitch and scored the tying run on Francisco Cervelli's two-out single.
Cervelli hit a three-run double as part of a four-run rally in the sixth that pulled Pittsburgh to 7-5.
Bryant hit his third home run this week. Anthony Rizzo also homered and drove in two runs for Chicago, who improved to 4-1 in extra-inning games this season.
''It really would have been a sin not to have won that game based on how we played,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Maddon celebrated his 800th career win Thursday by taking in a concert featuring Pete Townshend, Eddie Vedder, Joe Walsh, Joan Jett and Rick Nielsen, who performed the music of The Who. ''Townshend was unbelievable and Eddie Vedder was fantastic,'' Maddon said. ''I got to meet him for the first time. Joe Walsh? Wow. I wish they'd maybe included a couple more things. No encore, which I was disappointed with, so I talked to Eddie about that afterwards. I could listen to that all night.''
Pirates: LHP Antonio Bastardo was activated from the paternity list and LHP Bobby LaFromboise was sent down to Triple-A Indianapolis. Bastardo has a 6.43 ERA in 11 games and seven innings this season. LaFromboise pitched one scoreless inning in the Pirates' 4-2 loss at Philadelphia on Thursday in his only major league appearance this season. ... RHP Charlie Morton will join the Pirates in Chicago to throw a bullpen session on Saturday as his next step in rehabilitation from right hip surgery performed last September. Morton threw seven innings and gave up one earned run on 11 hits in a Triple-A rehab start on Thursday.
Cubs: C David Ross was examined Friday by trainers after he left the Thursday's game against the Mets with abdominal tightness. Ross didn't experience any soreness Friday and said he should be fine. Welington Castillo caught for the Cubs Friday.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-1, 2.32) has given up two of fewer earned runs in five of his first seven starts and will be looking Saturday for his sixth victory in his last seven outings.
Cubs: Jon Lester (3-2, 4.10) will be looking for his second victory this week at Wrigley despite giving up a season-high four walks on May 11 against the Mets.