- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run home run in the first inning as the Cubs jumped on starter Francisco Liriano. It was Rizzo’s 13th of the season. Andrew McCutchen responded with a two-run shot of his own in the third inning to tie the game. The Cubs retook the lead on a Darwin Barney RBI double that scored Rizzo in the fourth, but the Pirates tied it again on Josh Harrison’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs finally pulled away as Luis Valbuena hit a pinch-hit two-run double in the sixth followed by RBI hits by Rizzo and Starlin Castro in the seventh. Travis Wood picked up the win, giving up nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. Rizzo was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
What it means: Coming into the night Rizzo was just 2-for-17 against Liriano, but he crushed a ball out to right as he’s picked up the pace lately. His two doubles were no cheapies either, as he went to right-center and left-center. With a .284 batting average and 13 home runs, Rizzo should enter into All-Star consideration. He continues to hit left-handed pitching better than ever as evidenced by his work against Liriano.
On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Olt. He struck out looking twice before being pinch hit for by Valbuena, who promptly doubled and added another hit later in the game. Olt looks lost at the plate.
Liriano leaves early: Liriano left the game after warming up in the fourth inning. The Pirates later announced he had “discomfort on his left side.”
Polanco debuts: Pirates phenom Gregory Polanco made his much anticipated major league debut, going 1-for-5 as fans gave him a standing ovation before his first at-bat. He singled to left in his second at-bat, earning his first career base hit. He misplayed a ball in right that was ruled a double for Rizzo.