video thumbnail

PIT@CHC: DeWitt's double gives the Cubs the lead

CHICAGO -- Blake DeWitt erased any memories of Spring Training with one swing Saturday.

DeWitt smacked a pinch-hit, two-run double with two outs in the eighth to cap a five-run inning and lead the Cubs to a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over the Pirates.

This spring, DeWitt batted .186 and lost the starting second base job to rookie Darwin Barney and Jeff Baker. Saturday was his second at-bat of the new season, and both have come off the bench.

"Spring's over," DeWitt said. "It's time to compete now. Spring's important for everybody in this clubhouse, but when we get here, it's done. Nobody remembers what you do in the spring. It definitely helps you get ready for the season and, no doubt about it, I wish I had a better spring, but it's time to compete."

It was a team effort in the eighth. The Cubs trailed, 3-0, when pinch-hitter Kosuke Fukudome walked to lead off against Evan Meek (0-1) and moved up on a wild pitch. Fukudome scored on Starlin Castro's double to right, the ball sticking in the yet-to-bloom brown ivy.

First baseman Lyle Overbay couldn't get a glove on Marlon Byrd's grounder for an error, allowing Castro to score. One out later, Geovany Soto singled, and after Carlos Pena flew out to center, Alfonso Soriano hit an opposite-field RBI single to tie the game at 3.

"My goal with Soriano was to go up and in on him," Meek said. "We were showing him away, and he had fouled a ball away. I felt that he was leaning. My thought was, with two strikes on him, let's go up and in and see if we can't get him to swing. And if not, then we go back to the slider that he swung through earlier in the at-bat.

"Unfortunately it just goes back to what I said about not making smart pitches and not hitting my locations. These hitters are so good that, if you miss, they're going to hit your mistakes. That's what they did."

Meek was lifted for Chris Resop, who walked Tyler Colvin. DeWitt, who didn't take any swings off a batting tee prior to his at-bat, stepped in and dropped a double in left to drive in two.

"You watch the game and you can tell when a situation comes up that you're going to be needed," DeWitt said. "You can't be surprised as a player to be put in a game."

Maybe it was the inspirational words posted by one of the players in the clubhouse to focus on the present and "conquer the now" that inspired the Cubs? Manager Mike Quade didn't care.

"I like that song they play at the end," Quade said of the Steve Goodman tune "Go Cubs Go," played after wins at Wrigley Field. "Just win -- and not for me. Just compete and win and get these guys going. Heck, I was real excited at the end, and I'm not normally that excited."

Closer Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the ninth inning to pick up his first save and presented the game ball to Quade, who notched his first "W" of 2011.

DeWitt picked up on the message.

"It's a team, it's 25 guys all competing for the same thing, and that's to win," he said. "When your name is called, you better be ready. You're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for 24 other guys."

For the first seven innings, all Cubs fans could cheer for was the intermittent sunshine and Kerry Wood's first appearance.

Carlos Zambrano served up an RBI single to Pedro Alvarez in the Pirates' first and an RBI double to Neil Walker in the third.

Garrett Jones led off the seventh with his first homer to make it 3-0. Zambrano then went to 2-2 against Ronny Cedeno when athletic trainer Mark O'Neal went to the mound to check on the right-hander. He was pulled after 99 pitches because of cramping in his right hand. He's had cramps before, and Zambrano is not expected to miss a start.

Wood entered in his first appearance as a Cub since Sept. 27, 2008. Cedeno walked and then Wood, who opted to come back at a discounted $1.5 million, got Pirates starter Paul Maholm to hit into a force at second before striking out Jose Tabata and Walker.

Sean Marshall picked up the win in relief, and Marmol secured it. On Friday, the Cubs outhit the Pirates but had difficulty delivering clutch hits. Everything changed in the eighth inning.

"It definitely helps create an identity for the ballclub that we'll give it all for nine," DeWitt said. "It's a great way to start the year and to have a victory like that." Comments