When the ballgame was almost lost, the Cubs snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat after an Anthony Rizzo ground ball made its way through the legs of Giants’ first baseman Brandon Belt in the top of the ninth, allowing two runs to score, giving Chicago a 3-2 win in the series opener.
With San Francisco closer Sergio Romo on the hill, the Cubs elected to have Julio Borbon pinch hit for catcher Welington Castillo to open the ninth, and after he singled, pinch hitter Dioner Navarro drew a four-pitch walk, giving Chicago two on with nobody out.
Leadoff man David DeJesus was set down on strikes, and Junior Lake then grounded to third, but the attempted double play relay was too slow, placing runners on the corners with two away. Rizzo stepped in, and with the count full, hit a ground ball that went through the legs of Belt, and made its way down the line, allowing both Borbon and Lake to score, giving Chicago the lead for good, 3-2.
In the bottom half of the frame, Cubs closer Kevin Gregg allowed a leadoff single to the number three man in the Giants lineup, Pablo Sandoval. The next two batters, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt hit deep fly balls to the warning track in center field, but both were put away by DeJesus. The right-hander then nailed down the save, setting down Jeff Francouer on a pop-up to shallow left field.
The heart of the San Francisco (46-56) failed to touch Cubs’ starter Edwin Jackson until the bottom of the seventh inning. After issuing a walk to Sandoval, the first issued on the night for the right-hander, Pence drove a double down the line to put runners at second and third with one out. After an intentional walk was issued to Belt to load the bases, the left-fielder Francouer blooped a ball to right field, driving in two runs, to put the Giants ahead, 2-1.
An errant throw from the Cubs’ right fielder Nate Schierholtz that got past Castillo allowed Francouer to move up to second, and in the process, Belt was caught in a rundown between third and home, and was eventually tagged out.
That spelled the end of Edwin Jackson’s night, as left-hander James Russell came in to face Brandon Crawford. The southpaw walked Crawford on the payoff pitch, putting two men on with two outs. Bruce Bochy turned to pinch-hitter Andres Torres off the bench, prompting Dale Sveum to turn the ball over to right-hander Matt Guerrier with the game on the line.
Guerrier, a right-hander, forced the switch-hitting Torres to swing from the left side, where he hits roughly 80 points lower than the right. With two men on and two outs in the frame, Guerrier set down Torres on strikes to stop the damage, and send the game to the eighth in favor of the Giants, 2-1.
A two-out RBI single up the middle in the top of the sixth inning by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was one of the key moments in the ballgame, as he connected on a hanging breaking ball to drive in Schierholtz, who had doubled off the wall in the prior at-bat.
That was one of the only mistakes made by Cain (6-6) all night long, as he managed five punchouts and just one walk in one of his better starts of the season.
Jackson continued his recent stretch of success, and allowed just a handful of hits to the defending World Champions, whose offense was stagnant for much of the contest. The right-hander tossed 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
His counterpart, Matt Cain tossed seven innings of one-run ball, but did not factor into this decision against Chicago (46-55). The final line for Cain read as follows: seven innings pitched, one earned run, one walk and seven punch outs.
Chicago continued to struggle with runners in scoring position, collecting just one base hit in eleven at-bats, while stranding 11 runners on base against Giants pitching.
One of these instances came with two outs and two on in the eighth, when Darwin Barney grounded a ball between third and short, but was robbed of a base hit by a diving stop by third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
These two teams will continue their weekend series on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 8:05 p.m. CDT. Chris Rusin (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will square off against the Giants’ strongest starter this season, Madison Bumgarner (10-6, 2.93 ERA).