Cubs

Cubs erupt in ninth, rally to beat Pirates

Cubs erupt in ninth, rally to beat Pirates

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Anthony Rizzo just missed a chance at making history at the start of the game but was happy with the ending.

Rizzo almost led off his third straight game with a homer, losing his bid after a replay review, before helping key a six-run rally in the ninth inning that sent the Chicago Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-5 on Friday night.

The Cubs won for just the third time in nine games, putting the World Series champions back at .500 with a 33-33 mark.

Manager Joe Maddon wasn't around to see the comeback - he was ejected in the first inning after Rizzo's drive into the Allegheny River was initially called fair, then ruled foul. In Rizzo's first two tries as a leadoff man in his seven-year career, the slugging first baseman who usually bats cleanup led off both games this week with home runs against the New York Mets at Citi Field.

The record for most consecutive games with a leadoff home run is three by Brady Anderson in 1996 for the Baltimore Orioles.

"That was absolutely a home run," Rizzo said. "There is no way it could have gone over the pole foul because this is one of the shortest right fields in the league. I hit it too hard for it to have time to go foul.

"I respect the umpires and I never like to criticize them because I know they give their very best but they got that one wrong. At least, we won the game and that's all that really matters."

Chicago trailed 4-3 until Jason Heyward and Willson Contreras began the ninth with doubles off Juan Nicasio (1-3) to tie it. Tony Watson, who was removed as the closer last week in favor of a Nicasco-Felipe Rivero combo, gave up a go-ahead single to pinch-hitter Jon Jay.

"They just came in aggressively and made their hits and their swings," said Nicasio, who was charged with four runs without recording an out. "No excuses. I threw my pitches where I wanted them. They did their part."

Rizzo added a two-run single, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and Addison Russell had a two-run double.

"It seemed like everybody contributed in that inning," Russell said. "That's the type of offense I know we can be when everyone is clicking."

Closer Wade Davis gave up a run in the ninth, but struck out Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco with the bases loaded to end it.

Koji Uehera (2-3) pitched a scoreless inning.

Tommy La Stella and Ian Happ, who grew up in Pittsburgh and was playing his first game at PNC Park, had two hits each for the Cubs. La Stella had a single in the ninth.

Josh Bell hit his 12th homer and a two-run triple to help the Pirates rally from 3-0 deficit. Andrew McCutchen also had two hits, including a single in the sixth that scored Bell and put Pittsburgh ahead 4-3.

Cubs starter Eddie Butler allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The Pirates' Trevor Williams went five innings and gave up three runs.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is there change coming to baseball's diversity problem?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is there change coming to baseball's diversity problem?

While trying to get the season going, the MLB and baseball as a whole are starting to address another problem: the lack of diversity. NBCS Cubs reporter Maddie Lee is joined by former Cub and professor Doug Glanville, Laurence Holmes and Eugene McIntosh of "The Bigs" to discuss ways MLB and baseball need to address the issues and how they can benefit from it.

(2:00) - Ian Desmond's comments really struck a chord in baseball

(12:06) - Youth baseball for young Black athletes

(26:09) - Glanville remembers being the only Black athlete on teams in MLB

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

(30:14) - Current Black players in majors are still dealing with racism

(32:26) - Ways Theo Epstein is trying to help find solutions to the lack of diversity in baseball

Listen here or below.

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Race and baseball: For a young Doug Glanville, 'Baseball was diplomacy'

Race and baseball: For a young Doug Glanville, 'Baseball was diplomacy'

Doug Glanville remembers watching a teammate get kicked in the chest after a High School baseball game fraught with racial tension.

“Thank goodness my coach was really quick,” the former Cub said on the Cubs Talk Podcast this week. “The bus was right there. And all he could do was whisk people onto the bus because the last thing he needed was a brawl with young high school Black kids and this angry white mob of workers throwing N-words at us.”

Glanville shared the story as part of a round-table discussion on the declining number of African American players in Major League Baseball, and the sport’s access issues from the youth level on up. He, NBC Sports Chicago’s Laurence Holmes and The Bigs Media co-founder Eugene McIntosh talked about experiences from their playing days and sought solutions to the league’s diversity problem.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Glanville grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. The town voluntarily desegregated its public schools in the 1960’s.

“I came along in 1970 and watched a town that was truly committed to inclusion,” Glanville said. “So, I had this integrated, diverse experience where my teammates were from different backgrounds and different walks of life. And we were sort of this sesame seed inside of a Bergen County that was mostly white suburbs with a lot of wealth.”

He and his teammates took pride in that. Not only were they playing to win, they were fighting in the name of diversity.

“Baseball was diplomacy in my world,” Glanville said. “And it was a diplomacy of seeing players of color, diversity, taking on mostly homogenous teams, catholic schools, and representing.”

During his sophomore year, against one such homogeneous team in what Glanville describes as a “blue collar town,” Glanville and his teammates endured heckling all game long. A spectator hurled a racial slur at Glanville’s teammate, and the teammate said something back.

The encounter grew so heated that Glanville’s team had to climb the football stands to get to the bus. At the top, Glanville said, one of the people in pursuit kicked the team’s captain, who was Black.

“But you know what was so powerful about that was our team bonded even more over that,” Glanville said. “… We were like, we are one family, and we’re not going to put up with this.”

Can MLB harness baseball’s powers of diplomacy? For more stories and analysis from Glanville, Holmes and McIntosh, listen to the Cubs Talk Podcast.

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