CHICAGO (AP) — With the ball jumping out of Wrigley Field, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was in search of a reliever who could keep the ball down and help hold a big early lead.
Hurdle was never able to find that reliever.
Anthony Rizzo hit two homers and drove in six runs to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 13-9 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Pedro Alvarez hit two homers and drove in five runs for the Pirates, who lost for the 12th time in 15 games. Pittsburgh came into play Sunday two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card.
Staked to a 6-1 lead, the Pirates were unable to hold off the Cubs, who have taken five of the last six against Pittsburgh.
Rod Barajas homered for Pittsburgh, and Joe Mather hit a solo shot for the Cubs.
Rizzo hit a two-run shot in a four-run fifth inning, then capped a five-run sixth with his first career grand slam off Jared Hughes (2-2) to put the Cubs up 10-9 and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
Leading 9-5, Hurdle went with sinkerballer Rick van den Hurk, who was unable to retire the three batters he faced before Hughes gave up the grand slam.
"I wanted to bring in the sinker guys in from that point on to try to hold (the lead). I chose van den Hurk. It didn't work," Hurdle said.
Hurdle doesn't believe fatigue is an excuse for his bullpen's struggles.
"I have had people say it's because they are tired, but well sinker guys usually sink it better and throw it better when they are being used more. At least that's my experience," he said. "We are just not getting the job done."
The six RBIs are a career-high, and it was also the 23-year-old's first multihomer game.
"I don't think it tops the walkoff, but it was a great game. Well-fought by all (of us). It was a good game and we kept fighting the last couple of days and showing some resilience," Rizzo said.
David DeJesus had a pinch-hit, two-run single in a three-run ninth for Chicago.
Alvarez followed Gaby Sanchez's leadoff single in the fifth with an opposite-field shot onto Waveland Avenue to give the Cubs a four-run lead.
After the Cubs rallied to get within one, Alvarez hit another opposite-field shot in the sixth with two on to pad the lead again. It was Alvarez's sixth multihomer game of the season. He passed Andrew McCutchen for the team lead with 29.
Continue reading this story on the...