Cubs ride Castro to 9-8 comeback win over Pirates
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The shortstop of the future and the shortstop of the present happen to be on the Chicago Cubs’ roster at the same time. Yet manager Joe Maddon isn’t worried. He’s been around the game long enough to know these things tend to work themselves out.
Maybe Addison Russell will take over for Starlin Castro at some point. The way Castro is playing, it won’t be anytime soon.
Castro went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs, including a game-tying two-run single in the ninth, and the Cubs rallied for a 9-8 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Wellington Castillo followed Castro’s big hit with an RBI groundout off Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon (0-1) as Chicago overcame a late three-run deficit to win for the third time in four games.
“We’re not going to win that game last year or the year before,” Castro said. “We quit. If we were losing after seven innings we quit. Now we never quit. We play nine innings.”
Edwin Jackson (1-0) picked up the victory in relief. Hector Rondon worked a perfect ninth for his third save.
Russell, called up from Triple-A Iowa earlier in the day, went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts in his major league debut. The 21-year-old also played a crisp game at second base, where he’ll play at least for the time being.
“I’m just happy to get the first (game) out of the way,” Russell said. “I kind of see what it’s like up here. It was just my first day so I’m excited for what tomorrow brings.”
Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang went 2 for 4 with a bases-clearing double in the seventh for the first RBIs of his career. Starling Marte hit his fifth homer of the season for the Pirates and Francisco Cervelli added two hits and two RBIs.
The Pirates appeared to finally take control when Kang, a 27-year-old infielder who is the first position player to jump from the Korean Baseball Organization directly to the majors, smacked a double to center off Jason Motte to put Pittsburgh in front 8-5.
Castillo hit a solo homer off Tony Watson in the eighth to draw the Cubs within two and Chicago pounced on Melancon in the ninth.
Anthony Rizzo led off the inning with a single. Jorge Soler doubled and Kris Bryant walked. Castro then hit a chopper over the head of Pittsburgh third baseman Josh Harrison to tie the game. Melancon struck out Chris Coghlan but Castillo’s soft grounder to second was too slow to turn a double play and the Cubs leapt in front.
“When I see Rizzo get on base and the double for Soler I said that I know we have a chance today,” Castro said. ”(Melancon) never threw the curve for a strike. Be ready for the cutter and the fastball.”
The Cubs hadn’t expected Russell to join fellow rookie Kris Bryant in the majors so soon but it changed after their platoon of second basemen struggled out of the gate. Russell, acquired as part of the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to Oakland last summer, hit .318 in Triple-A and Maddon stressed he felt Russell was mature enough to handle the pressure.
Unlike the last few years, the Pirates aren’t expecting an impact player from their farm system to arrive this season. Instead their most intriguing prospect is Kang, who hit .356 with 40 home runs in the KBO last season. Playing time has been hard to come by, though general manager Neal Huntington insisted over the weekend that Kang was better served getting spot duty in the majors than regular at bats in the minors.
The Cubs walked Marte intentionally to get to Kang in the seventh before Kang sent a ball to the wall. Pittsburgh’s bullpen, a strength during its playoff runs the last two years, then gave the lead away.
Cubs: To make room for Russell on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred third baseman Mike Olt to the 60-day disabled list. Olt fractured his right wrist after being hit by a pitch from Colorado’s Adam Ottavino on April 11.
Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer played catch during pregame but missed his second straight start after getting hit in the ribs by Milwaukee’s Jeff Garza on Sunday. ... A fan struck by a foul ball behind home plate on Monday was released from the hospital after she was evaluated by doctors.
Cubs RHP Jason Hammel (1-0, 5.11 ERA) makes his third start of the year as the teams play the third game of a four-game set. Hammel is 2-2 with a 4.19 ERA in four appearances at PNC Park. Vance Worley (1-1, 5.5.84) starts for Pittsburgh. Worley is 2-0 in four career starts against the Cubs.