“Had we laid down after the first inning, giving up four runs, I would have been extremely disappointed,” Renteria said. “But we didn’t. We kept chipping away. I think that’s what we’re talking about. We have to fight. We have to keep battling every day, and if they keep doing that, we’re going to get our situation where both sides of our game get to where it needs to be.”
The Cubs rallied twice, first from 4-0 in the first inning and then a 6-4 deficit in the fifth inning, for a tie at 6 on Anthony Rizzo’s run-scoring single in the seventh. Starlin Castro got the rally started with a pair of home runs, including a three-run shot in the third inning.
Pedro Alvarez had two hits and two RBIs for the Pirates. Russell Martin drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and Jason Grilli closed with a perfect ninth for his second save in three chances.
Cubs right-hander Pedro Strop (0-1) walked two batters in the eighth and recorded only one out before being replaced by left-hander James Russell, who immediately walked Alvarez to load the bases and Martin followed with a fly ball to right field that made it 7-6.
The Cubs tied the game in the seventh against Tony Watson (1-0) on Rizzo’s hit up the middle scoring Emilio Bonifacio, who went 3 for 5 and is batting .515.
Castro hit a game-tying three-run homer in the third and a solo shot in the sixth against Morton for his first career multi-homer game.
Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson gave up six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. Jackson struggled with his command, walking four (one intentional) and hitting a batter. Pirates starter Charlie Morton didn’t fare much better allowing five runs on eight hits in six innings.
Jackson’s troubles began on the game’s first pitch with a lead-off double by Starling Marte. It sparked a four-run inning and nine Pirates batted in the first.
“We see him throw for strikes and saw the ball (and) put it in play,” Marte said of Jackson. “We tried not to do too much and do what we can and play hard.”
Said Jackson: “They came out aggressive and I left a lot of balls out over the plate, which is a bad combination for our team. Our team did a great job of coming back, but at the end of the day I have to do a better job of getting the ball down and executing pitches.”
Renteria was ejected in the ninth for arguing balls and strikes.
Note: Renteria said the Cubs are sticking with the five-man rotation as constructed meaning RHP Carlos Villanueva will stay in the rotation and not move back to the bullpen. . Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said he didn’t have a problem with top prospect Javier Baez’s recent ejection at Triple-A Iowa labeling it a “great development experience” for the 21-year-old shortstop. . Epstein said the Cubs are being cautious with Double-A Tennessee OF prospect Jorge Soler (sore right hamstring) by putting him on the seven-day disabled list. Soler aggravated his hamstring during the first minor league game of the season while running to second base on a double. . On the 40th anniversary of Hank Aaron hitting the 715th home run of his career to set an MLB record, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle fondly remembered the moment. “I wasn’t watching at the start and my dad tried to tune in the radio because we were in Florida,” Hurdle said. “We listened to a lot of the games on radio. As it turned out, it was a pretty magical moment.”