Pirates Sweep Cubs, Yankees Sweep Cardinals


Published on April 17 2017 6:18 am
Last Updated on April 17 2017 6:18 am


For the first time in a while, the Pittsburgh Pirates enjoyed their visit to Wrigley Field.

Adam Frazier hit a clinching home run as the Pirates scored six times in the final two innings to beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 Sunday for a three-game sweep of the World Series champions.

"We came in struggling. It was big for us to get these three wins," Frazier said.

The Pirates went 4-14 against the Cubs last season, including 1-8 in Chicago. Their previous three-game sweep at the ballpark was in September 2014.

"It was important for us to come here and play good baseball," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We didn't play well here last year. They played really well."

Jameson Taillon (1-0) allowed an unearned run and struck out six in seven innings. Cubs starter Jon Lester pitched three-hit ball for seven innings and left with a 1-0 lead.

The Pirates scored three times in the eighth off Koji Uehara (0-1), getting the go-ahead run when pinch runner Alen Hanson slid home on Andrew McCutchen's bases-loaded grounder -- a replay review upheld the call that catcher Willson Contreras was barely off the plate when he caught first baseman Anthony Rizzo's throw on an attempted force play.

"That's been more of our problem than anything, not getting a clutch hit and holding a lead at the end of the game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Frazier hit a three-run homer in the ninth.

Tommy La Stella's pinch-hit double off Frazier's glove in left field put the Cubs ahead in the seventh. Chicago loaded the bases on a walk before Taillon got Rizzo to pop out to end the inning.

Taillon has given up three runs in 20 innings. Last season, he had the second-lowest ERA (3.38) among NL rookie starters.

"Just a fantastic effort," Hurdle said. "He came out focused and came out determined. He elevated the ball really well today, more so than probably in the past. The changeup and curveball were difference makers."

Yankees 9, Cardinals 3

While the rest of the Yankees were off to a flying start at home, Greg Bird was still grounded in the batter's box.

He finally joined in the fun Sunday.

Bird busted out of his slump with a long home run that began a perfect night at the plate, and Michael Pineda pitched New York past the staggering St. Louis Cardinals 9-3 for its seventh straight victory.

"That's the Bird I know," teammate Aaron Judge said. "That's what he did in spring training."

Aaron Hicks also hit a homer and Judge was robbed of one by a fan in the bleachers , forcing the young Yankees bopper to settle for an RBI triple. New York chased Adam Wainwright (0-3) in the fifth and finished a three-game sweep that left St. Louis at 3-9, the worst record in the National League and its poorest start since 1988.

"It's an incredibly frustrating start to the season," the 35-year-old Wainwright said after his first career outing against the Yankees. "I know Cardinal Nation is ready for me to get my act together, and I am, too."

His cap cocked to the side, Pineda (2-1) permitted two runs over seven innings in a solid follow-up to his dominant outing last Monday. The right-hander retired his first 20 batters during New York's home opener and struck out 11 over 7 2/3 innings for an 8-1 victory against Tampa Bay.

The strong encore Sunday was particularly encouraging to the Yankees, yearning for a steady season from a talented pitcher who has been maddeningly inconsistent throughout his tenure with the team.

"It's important because you want him to keep going, and get some momentum," manager Joe Girardi said . "He had a hard time doing that last year."

Yadier Molina's leadoff homer in the seventh trimmed it to 4-2, but Pineda maintained his poise and retired the next three batters.

"After the second inning, I got more energy," he said. "I'm working so hard to be consistent every five days."

Austin Romine and Ronald Torreyes, the bottom two batters in the order, each had a two-run double against reliever Miguel Socolovich during a five-run eighth. The late outburst sealed New York's sweep of an early interleague series between two of baseball's most successful and storied franchises.

Chase Headley, who also reached safely every time up, singled to start the second, and Judge hit a drive to deep right-center, where a fan reached out just next to the auxiliary scoreboard hoping to catch a home run. The ball popped out of the man's mitt and back into play, triggering a fan interference call by the umpires.

Following a replay review that lasted nearly three minutes, the ruling stood and Judge remained at third with an RBI triple -- even though it appeared his shot would have easily cleared the fence if not for the eager fan.

"I think that was my first career triple," Judge said. "So I don't mind it."

Bird made all that moot for the Yankees when he sent Wainwright's next pitch way over the right-field wall and into the elevated bleachers for his first home run since Oct. 1, 2015, against Boston. The 24-year-old first baseman missed last season while recovering from shoulder surgery after hitting 11 homers in 46 games as a rookie in 2015.

Following an outstanding spring, Bird began the night 1 for 26 this season and hitless in his past 20 at-bats. But Girardi said before the game he saw some good signs Saturday and planned to keep the promising young slugger in the lineup.

"My timing was messed up," said Bird, who went 3 for 3 with a double and a walk. "Tonight, I really just tried to simplify and swing at strikes."

Hicks added a solo homer off Wainwright in the fifth.


White Sox 3, Twins 1

With a runner at third and two outs in the 10th inning, Avisail Garcia swung hard and missed on the first pitch he saw against Minnesota reliever Ryan Pressly.

Garcia stepped out of the box, collected himself and thought about what's worked this season: just put the bat on the ball.

Garcia had a career-high four hits, including an opposite-field, two-run homer in the 10th that gave the Chicago White Sox a 3-1 win over the Twins on Sunday.

"I said to myself, `Hey, don't try to do too much," Garcia said. "Just put the barrel on the ball because he throws hard. That's what I do. I just tried to put a good swing, see the ball and hit it."

Leury Garcia doubled off Pressly (0-2) leading off the 10th and advanced on Tyler Saladino's sacrifice. Jose Abreu struck out and Garcia drove a high fastball over the seats and into the right field plaza.

"It's a situation where we all know how hot he is, but I'm not huge on walking guys to get to other people and I feel my guy's got the stuff to get him out with," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "Obviously, he left the ball up where he could handle it. Tough one to swallow."

Nate Jones (1-0) struck out two in a perfect ninth, and David Robertson fanned his first two batters in a 1-2-3 10th for his third save in three chances.

Garcia entered the year hitting .262 through five major league seasons, but the 6-foot-4 Venezuelan increased his league-leading average to .465.

"I think he's focusing on just making good contact," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "I can guarantee you he didn't go up there thinking he was going to hit a homer. He just wanted to get a pitch to hit. With a man that strong, you put a good swing on a ball and you click it, it's got a chance to go."

Sunday, April 16 Scoreboard

Baltimore 11, Toronto 4

Detroit 4, Cleveland 1

Milwaukee 4, Cincinnati 2

Miami 4, New York Mets 2

Boston 7, Tampa Bay 5

Atlanta 9, San Diego 2

Washington 6, Philadelphia 4

Kansas City 1, Los Angeles Angels 0

Pittsburgh 6, Chicago Cubs 1

Colorado 4, San Francisco 3

Chicago White Sox 3, Minnesota 1 (F/10)

Seattle 8, Texas 7

Arizona 3, Los Angeles Dodgers 1

New York Yankees 9, St. Louis 3

Monday, April 17 Schedule (All Times Central)

Tampa Bay at Boston, 10:05 a.m.

Pittsburgh at St. Louis, 6 p.m.

Chicago White Sox at  New York Yankees, 6:05 p.m.

San Diego at Atlanta, 6:35 p.m.

Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs, 7:05 p.m.

Cleveland at Minnesota, 7:10 p.m.

Los Angeles Angels at Houston, 7:10 p.m.

Texas at Oakland, 9:05 p.m.

Miami at Seattle, 9:10 p.m.

Arizona at Los Angeles Dodgers, 9:10 p.m.