Matt Hague never dreamed his first winning RBI in the majors would feel like this.
His initial reaction? More pain than jubilation.
After all, taking a 96 mph fastball in the side can hurt.
Hague was hit by a pitch from Rafael Dolis with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates sent the Chicago Cubs to their 11th straight loss with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.
Hague took a 2-2 fastball from Dolis (2-4) in the left side below the rib cage, scoring Jose Tabata and eliciting an incredulous look to the sky by the Cubs reliever.
”It hurt,” said the rookie first baseman, recalled Friday from Triple-A. ”Once I hit first base and then when people kept punching me (in celebration) right where I got hit, it didn’t feel good, either.”
Hague felt better than the Cubs, who are enduring their longest losing streak in 15 years. This is the 11th time in their 137-year history that they have lost at least 11 games in a row.
”You are not going to win too many games when you score two runs,” Chicago manager Dale Sveum said.
None of the previous 10 defeats in this losing streak came this way. Indeed, few of the 9,809 previous losses in Cubs’ history ended like this.
Dolis also walked Josh Harrison and Neil Walker earlier in the ninth after Tabata had singled to lead off the inning.
”We are having trouble with Dolis right now throwing back-to-back strikes,” Sveum said. ”He’s throwing scuds and stuff all over the place, and then he’ll throw a strike and then one all over the place again. We’ve got to fix that because that’s not acceptable.”
Hague, who was 1 for 3 with a walk before facing Dolis, acknowledged that he came to the plate with a mentality that he was going to wait for a strike.
”I was going to take a strike no matter what,” Hague said. ”Make him come at me.”
The punchless Cubs offense continued to struggle, managing six hits against Kevin Correia and three relievers. Closer Joel Hanrahan (2-0) had two strikeouts in a perfect ninth.
Alfonso Soriano homered and Starlin Castro had an RBI triple for the Cubs, who have scored eight runs in their past six games.
Andrew McCutchen reached base four times and scored a run for Pittsburgh, which has taken the first two games of this series despite scoring a total of four runs.
Longtime Pirates starter Paul Maholm received a no-decision in his first game against his former club.
Twenty-two of the Pirates’ 46 games this season have been decided by one run, and Pittsburgh improved to 13-9 in such contests.
The Cubs intentionally walked McCutchen with a runner at second and one out of a scoreless game in the third. McCutchen has reached base in 33 consecutive games played against Chicago.
Pedro Alvarez followed with a single to center, scoring Tabata. Walker then drove McCutchen home with a sacrifice fly.
Soriano’s homer to right-center in the fourth, his fifth, snapped a 20-inning scoreless streak for the Cubs. They entered the fourth having scored during four of their previous 59 innings but made it two consecutive in the fifth when Castro had their first hit with runners in scoring position in 27 at-bats over five days.
David DeJesus doubled with two outs and Castro followed with a triple to right to tie it at 2.
The PNC Park career leader in starts, victories, strikeouts and innings, Maholm was pulled after five innings (94 pitches). He was charged with two runs on four hits and five walks with two strikeouts in five innings.
”Obviously, I wanted to do well and pitch longer than five innings,” Maholm said. ”It’s not like they hit balls tonight. I knew that they were a pretty aggressive team and trying to take advantage of it. Most of the pitches were too far out of the zone for them to chase.”
Correia allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with two strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.
Correia had lost his previous five starts. He started a game Pittsburgh won for the first time since April 24.
Even if it did come in the most unusual of ways.
”That guy (Dolis) was kind of hit-or-miss, so (a hit batter) is always a possibility,” Correia said. ”I’m sure Hague is hurting. That guy throws pretty hard. To get that one straight in the ribs, he had to earn that RBI.”
Notes: Soriano’s home run broke a 17-inning scoreless streak by Pirates pitchers. … Harrison’s hitting streak ended at 10 games. … The Pirates have allowed two or fewer runs in 15 of 23 home games this season. … In the series finale Sunday, Pirates LHP Erik Bedard (2-5, 3.52) faces RHP Matt Garza (2-2, 3.72). Garza pitched seven shutout innings in his only previous outing at PNC Park, Aug. 3, 2011.