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: An ode to Joe Maddon and looking to the next era

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USA Today

Cubs Talk Podcast: An ode to Joe Maddon and looking to the next era

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Tony Andracki, Kelly Crull, Scott Changnon and Jeff Nelson give us their memories of Joe Maddon's time with the Cubs and discuss David Ross and Joe Espada's candidacy to be the next manager.

01:30 Kelly's memories of Joe from the perspective of a reporter

06:00 Going back to Hazleton with Joe

07:45 Joe's legacy as manager of the Cubs

16:00 How Joe impacted Javy Baez' career

18:00 David Ross and Joe Espada may be the leaders to replace Joe Maddon.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

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Cubs reportedly ‘exceptionally impressed’ by Joe Espada in managerial search

Cubs reportedly ‘exceptionally impressed’ by Joe Espada in managerial search

As the Cubs peruse over their list of managerial candidates, one name reportedly made a strong impression following his interview with the team.

According to NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan, Astros bench coach Joe Espada left the Cubs front office “exceptionally impressed” following his interview on Monday.

Espada, 44, has spent the last two seasons as Astros bench coach following three seasons as Yankees third base coach. He is one of MLB’s more sought after managerial candidates this winter and one of three known external candidates for the Cubs’ opening, along with Joe Girardi and Gabe Kapler.

Former Cubs catcher and current front office assistant David Ross has been the presumed front runner for the Cubs' opening. But based on Kaplan’s report, Espada clearly has given Epstein and Co. something to think about, which makes sense, considering Espada is coming from an innovative Astros organization.

Epstein said at his end-of-season press conference that there’s no timeline for the Cubs’ managerial search. However, MLB prefers teams to not make big announcements during the World Series, which kicks off on Oct. 22. Thus, the Cubs may not make an announcement for little while longer, though this is purely speculation.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.