Pirates rally to defeat Chicago
Former Cub Bobby Hill hit a two-run double in the eighth inning for the Bucs.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Bobby Hill was once seen as the Cubs' second baseman of the future -- a future that never came. He insists that's all in the past, even if the Cubs may have trouble believing that.
The Pittsburgh Pirates roughed up Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano for five runs after barely scoring against him last season, then used Hill's two-run double in the eighth inning to rally past Chicago 8-5 Friday night.
Backup catcher David Ross had two homers and three RBIs and Rob Mackowiak also homered as the Pirates won for the first time in three home games. Zambrano allowed the three homers in six innings after yielding only 14 in 209 innings last season.
Hill, who got a brief and unsuccessful shot to be the Cubs' second baseman in 2002, doubled and scored the tying run on Matt Lawton's single in the seventh against Mike Remlinger. An inning later, Hill followed Mackowiak's single and Daryle Ward's double against Remlinger (0-1) with a go-ahead double to right-center against Chad Fox.
"That's a long time ago and I don't worry about that stuff," Hill said of a Cubs career that ended with the Aramis Ramirez trade in August 2003. "I've put that in the past. I was just glad to help us do something to win."
Zambrano, coming off 7 1/3 shutout innings of one-hit pitching Saturday against the Brewers, gave up more than a season's worth of runs to the Pirates -- five over six-plus innings. He allowed only four runs in 35 innings while going 5-0 against them in 2004, becoming the first to beat Pittsburgh five times in a season since Hall of Famer Tom Seaver in 1973.
The Pirates certainly couldn't have expected this after scoring a major league-low 24 runs in their first nine games.
"Nobody gave us any chance to beat them, the way we've been swinging the bats and the way Zambrano's throwing the ball," Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon said. "But I told our coaching staff and [general manager] Dave Littlefield before the game, we're going to battle through this and eventually it will come around."
Hill felt the same way after playing sparingly, going 2-for-7 before Friday. He was expected to get more playing time when second baseman Jose Castillo was hurt during the second game of the season, but Mackowiak has started most of the time.
"It's always been a battle for me ... but I've always tried to stay positive," Hill said. "I have a lot of confidence in what I can do."
The Pirates finally looked like they had some confidence against Zambrano, who had a 1.05 ERA against them last season.
"His [pitch] location wasn't very good," manager Dusty Baker said. "When he made a pitch in the wrong location, they didn't miss it."
Despite the offensive support, Pirates starter Oliver Perez gave up seven hits and five runs in six innings. The left-hander has yielded five or more runs in all three starts, allowing 16 earned runs in 15 innings after having a 2.98 ERA last season.
Ross answered Jason Dubois' two-run homer in the top of the second with a two-run drive in the home half, but Neifi Perez put the Cubs ahead again 4-2 with a two-run drive following Jerry Hairston's leadoff walk in the fifth. Ross homered again in the fifth, his third of the season.
The Cubs made it 5-3 in the sixth when Pirates right fielder Matt Lawton couldn't make a shoetop catch of Jeromy Burnitz's line-drive triple and Michael Barrett followed with a sacrifice fly.
Salomon Torres (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the victory and Jose Mesa pitched the ninth for his fourth save in as many opportunities. He is 47-for-52 with the Pirates after losing his closer's job with the Phillies in 2003.
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