Cubs 4, Pirates 3
Xavier Nady has had quite a journey since he last was successful as a pinch-hitter.
Try this over less than two years: He was traded from the Pirates to the Yankees, had Tommy John surgery and signed with the Cubs as a free agent.
``I knew it had been a long freakin' time,'' Nady said Sunday after he singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as Chicago rallied to defeat Pittsburgh 4-3 - the Cubs' first victory over the Pirates following seven losses.
Nady had been hitless in 10 at-bats as a pinch hitter, including 0 for 9 this season, since delivering July 19, 2008, when he was with Pittsburgh.
``Pinch-hitting is difficult, and I have a lot of respect for the guys that have been good at it,'' Nady said. ``You sit around waiting for your chance. You might go a couple of days without playing. Then you come up ... and a lot of times it's a crucial at-bat.''
The Pirates, who had outscored the Cubs 32-14 in winning their first five games against them this season, were going for their first series sweep at Wrigley Field in 10 years.
``It's great to take the series, but being ahead ... you want to win the games you're supposed to win,'' said reliever Evan Meek, who couldn't protect a 3-1 seventh-inning lead for starter Ross Ohlendorf.
After Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome prevented two runs with a diving catch on Ohlendorf's fly, the Cubs rallied to tie it in their half of the seventh.
``Game saver,'' Cubs starter Ted Lilly said of Fukudome's play, which came on a line drive after Ohlendorf had faked a bunt. ``He was playing really shallow and had to run that down. It was impressive.''
Ohlendorf opened Chicago's seventh by walking Mike Fontenot. Meek then gave up Fukudome's two-out single and threw a wild pitch that allowed Fontenot to score. Shortstop Ronny Cedeno bobbled Starlin Castro's grounder for an error before Derrek Lee singled home Fukudome.
``I wanted to stay in,'' said Ohlendorf, who allowed two runs on four hits in his second start since missing a month with back spasms. ``But when you walk a guy on four pitches to start the inning, you're not really showing the manager that you're good to go.''
Alfonso Soriano singled off D.J. Carrasco (1-1) with one out in the eighth, stole second and kept going to third on a wild pitch. After Geovany Soto drew a two-out walk, Nady lined a 2-2 pitch to right field.
``We got the big hits at the big moments,'' Soriano said. ``That's what we've got to do more often.''
The Cubs, who won for only the third time in 12 games and are 16-22 this season, repeatedly have failed in the clutch. A productive Nady might help.
He had 97 RBIs in 2008, which he split between Pittsburgh and New York, but missed most of last season with the Yankees after Tommy John surgery. The Cubs signed him for $3.3 million, hoping to create a four-outfielder rotation, but Nady still hasn't recovered fully and has received limited outfield play.
``I'm encouraged that the elbow feels great,'' Nady said. ``It's a long season. I'll get my opportunities, and I just have to be ready to contribute.''
Sean Marshall (2-1) worked a scoreless eighth in relief of Lilly, who allowed three runs on six hits in a season-high seven innings. Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
The Pirates had taken a 3-0 lead in the second on Bobby Crosby's single and a two-run single by Lastings Milledge. Soriano doubled in a run in the home half of the inning.
NOTES: Chicago's Lou Piniella became the 14th manager with 1,800 career wins. ... Pirates 1B Steve Pearce was back two days after hurting his knee. He went 1 for 3, drew a walk and made two nice defensive plays. ... Cubs 2B Ryan Theriot sat out after being hit in the left elbow by a pitch Saturday. Asked if Theriot would play Monday, Piniella said: ``We'll see.'' ... Castro, Chicago's 20-year-old SS, had his first hitless day after opening his career with an eight-game streak. ... Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is 12 for 18 with nine runs and five RBIs against the Cubs this season.