- Associated Press - Friday, May 15, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle’s strategy to prolong an extra-inning game and give the Pirates another chance to pull out a dramatic comeback almost worked perfectly - twice

But Pittsburgh right fielder Gregory Polanco tripped and fell trying to catch a routine fly and the ball dropped for an RBI single in the 12th inning that sent the Chicago Cubs to a startling 11-10 win on Friday.

“It looked to me like (Polanco) got to the ball without a problem,” Hurdle said. “He didn’t have to go far to get to the ball and then he made a little move to his left and crossed his feet and that just took him out of the play, took him down to the ground.”

The Pirates lost their third straight, despite rallying from 7-1 and 10-5 deficits. Francisco Cervelli tied the game at 10 in the ninth with his fourth RBI of the game on a sharp two-out single, coming with two strikes.

Chicago loaded the bases with one out in the 12th against Radhames Liz (0-1) and Matt Szczur lifted a routine fly to shallow right field, surely not deep enough to score the winning run.

Polanco came running in with plenty of time to make the catch, then slipped and 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.

A crazy ending, considering that in the exact same situation in the 10th - an intentional walk to Chicago’s Jorge Soler to load the bases with 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.

“If you’re going to pick one (hitter) you’re going to go at and try to get out of the inning, it’s not Soler for me,” Hurdle said. “That’s why we did it twice. That’s to get Szczur to get a ball on the ground or a weak fly ball and it worked twice.”

“Yeah, almost.”

Polanco wasn’t at his locker in the immediate aftermath of the loss.

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.

And it looked like the Cubs were coasting to a victory - one that eventually became much more complicated.

“Déjà vu all over again, unbelievable - the way the whole thing played out was remarkable,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. “We got lucky - give them a lot of credit for coming back the way they did. They have a lot of fight in them.”

The Pirates scored four times in the eighth on a solo homer by Josh Harrison and a three-run shot from Andrew McCutchen. They also scored four runs in the sixth, when Cervelli’s three-run double was the key hit in a rally that pulled Pittsburgh to 7-5.

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 Cervelli’s two-out single.

“The good thing is, we never give up,” Cervelli said. “It’s tough to beat us.

“These guys are hungry,” he added. “These guys love to play baseball and came with the same mentality.”

Pedro Alvarez also homered for the Pirates.

Bryant hit his third home run this week. Anthony Rizzo also homered and drove in two runs for Chicago.

TRAINER’S ROOM

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 in 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.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Gerritt Cole (5-1, 2.32) has given up two or 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 Field despite giving up a season-high four walks on May 11 against the Mets.

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