Pirates 4, Cubs 1
Jul. 02, 1996
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Danny Darwin, who nearly retired after last season, continued his remarkable comeback with seven innings of six-hit pitching to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates past the Chicago Cubs 4-1 Monday night.
Orlando Merced had two run-scoring singles and Jeff King went 4-for-4 with an RBI as the Pirates won at home for only the 16th time in 39 games. Their home record is the National League's worst.
Darwin (7-7), offered only a minor-league contract by Pittsburgh after going 3-10 with Toronto and Texas last season, gave up one run, struck out and walked one to win for the fifth time in his last six starts. He has permitted only five earned runs in 41 innings over that stretch _ a 1.10 ERA.
By contrast, Darwin allowed 82 earned runs in 99 innings last season for a 7.45 ERA _ the second highest among all major league starters. His 2.55 ERA currently ranks fourth in the league.
Darwin was nearly yanked after being spiked in the right foot while covering first base on Luis Gonzalez's double play grounder in the fifth. Mark Grace scored from second on the play as Darwin clutched at his foot in pain.
Darwin was limping even after throwing several warmup pitches, but convinced manager Jim Leyland to let him stay in the game and allowed only two hits over his final 3 1-3 innings.
The Pirates, outscored 50-26 during a just-concluded 3-6 road trip, jumped on Cubs starter Jaime Navarro (6-8) for a 3-0 lead with the help of a disputed run in the first.
With one out, Al Martin's drive to center bounced off the artificial turf and ricocheted off a grandstand pillar beyond the outfield wall. Scott Bullett, making only his second start in center this season, pointed to the wall and stopped pursuing the ball.
But second base umpire Terry Tata emphatically waved his arms in a safe sign, indicating the ball was still in play. Martin kept running on the play and wound up at third.
King, whose four-hit game was his fourth of the season, and Orlando Merced followed with RBI singles. Charlie Hayes doubled for the Pirates' fourth straight hit, and Mike Kingery's sacrifice fly made it 3-0.
Merced added his second RBI single in the fifth off Navarro, who gave up 11 hits and four runs over seven innings.
Dan Plesac benefited from the Pirates' third double play while pitching a scoreless eighth, and got another double play in the ninth for his fourth save.
Merced also had the first unassisted double play by an NL outfielder since the Pirates' Andy Van Slyke against Houston on July 7, 1992. With Bullett running on the play, Merced caught Mark Grace's fly ball to medium-range right in the first inning and kept on running to first to tag the bag.
Notes: The Cubs put right-hander Mike Campbell on the 15-day disabled list Monday with tendinitis in his right elbow and recalled right-hander Tanyon Sturtze from Triple-A Iowa. ... The Pirates had lost nine of 13. ... The Cubs signed right-hander Todd Noel, their No. 1 pick in last month's free agent draft.