A win's a win, right?
Not sure that really applies to every victory, but the Cubs still escaped with their fifth straight win Friday, walking off for an 11-10 victory over the Pirates in 12 innings at Wrigley Field in a game that lasted five hours.
The Cubs mounted a rally in the bottom of the 12th when Starlin Castro walked with one out. Miguel Montero followed that with a single before Jorge Soler was intentionally walked. Matt Szczur popped a fly ball into right field, and Pittsburgh outfielder Gregory Polanco fell down, leading to a Cubs walk-off and another dance party in the clubhouse.
So...better lucky than good?
"We'll take it," Szczur said. "Anything we can get."
Szczur was faced with the exact same situation - bases loaded, one out - in the 10th inning and also hit a pop fly into right field, but Polanco stayed on his feet for that one, throwing a perfect strike to nab Castro at home by a wide margin.
Still, manager Joe Maddon, Castro and the Cubs maintained it was the right call to gamble and send Castro.
The Cubs jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the fifth inning, but the Pirates plated four in the sixth. The Cubs came right back and scored one in the sixth and two in the seventh to make it a 10-5 ballgame.
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But the Pirates just wouldn't stop. They scored four more times in the eighth and then tied things up in the ninth off Cubs closer Hector Rondon with two outs.
"I could have lived without it," Maddon said. "We really should have put that away earlier. We played really well today. Don’t be deceived; we played really well today. We did not pitch well today, but we played a good game of baseball.
"I’m really happy with the way we played, whether it was the at-bats, the hitting, the defense, the baserunning, everything.
"It would really have been a sin not to have won that game, based on how well we played. And that’s my takeaway."
Kyle Hendricks was cruising along, having allowed just one run before a two-out, three-run double from Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli opened the floodgates. Hendricks was charged with five runs in 5.2 innings of work.
The Cubs bullpen had been looking much better lately, but they allowed five runs in 6.1 innings Friday, with two pitchers - Justin Grimm and Jason Motte - failing to record even one out in their appearances.
"I know the bullpen, we’ve had those moments already this year," Maddon said. "We have to get better. We just can’t maybe get better; we have to get better at that, because you’re not going to the dance without that functioning properly. That’s a fact.
"... The big thing about the bullpen is, when you bring a guy from the bullpen, that you know what to expect. We need to know what to expect."
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The two teams combined to throw 496 pitches in the 12 innings, with 30 hits, 17 walks (three intentional), three hit batters, five homers and one wacky finish.
The Cubs' new "Bash Brothers" (Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo) each hit a homer and combined to drive in six runs while reaching base six times. Soler drew four walks, Castro walked twice and singled twice and Szczur finished with two hits and three RBI.
The Cubs are now 11-6 in one-run contests. This is a game the Cubs would have lost the last few seasons, but this is a new team with a new vibe, still figuring out how to win.
They're going to need a few "lucky" wins if they're going to really make a run at the postseason.
"We could recap all the times we’ve had bad baseball luck this season also," Maddon said. "That was good baseball luck today. And we’ll take it."