video thumbnail

PIT@CHC: Castro scores from first on Alvarez's error

CHICAGO -- Mike Quade is a glass half full kind of guy, so even though the Cubs lost his first Opening Day game as a big league manager, he could find plenty of positives.

The Cubs outhit the Pirates and created opportunities, the middle infield duo of Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney were solid, and the bullpen did its job. But there was no happy ending as the Pirates upended the Cubs, 6-3, in front of 41,358 soggy fans at chilly Wrigley Field.

"No storybook ending, but I don't believe in those things anyway," Quade said. "You have to earn what you get, and we didn't earn it today. We got beat."

Neil Walker belted a grand slam with two outs in the fifth and Andrew McCutchen added a two-run homer, both off Ryan Dempster, to power the Pirates and spoil the festivities.

Dempster (0-1) held the Pirates to two hits over the first four innings and the Cubs had a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Ryan Doumit singled, and one out later, Ronny Cedeno walked. Both advanced on a sacrifice by Kevin Correia, and Jose Tabata walked to set up Walker's homer off a 3-2 pitch. The ball bounced off the right-field bleachers and onto Sheffield Avenue.

Walker, who batted .469 against the Cubs last season, had struck out and flew out to right his first two at-bats against Dempster. This time, the Cubs starter was in a mess.

"He was trying to get me out away and was successful the first two times," Walker said. "I just tried to grind the at-bat out and got to 3-2, and fortunately he left a pitch out over the plate."

It was the second grand slam by a Pirates batter on Opening Day and first since Roberto Clemente did so in 1962.

Walker then doubled with two outs in the seventh and McCutchen followed with his home run to chase Dempster, who gave up six hits, walked four and struck out seven.

"I'm more mad about the [McCutchen homer]," Dempster said. "The grand slam hurt. When it's 4-2 and you're right in the game and you give up the add-on runs, those usually end up putting you away for the rest of the game. They scored all six of their runs with two outs. I have to do a better job."

McCutchen's homer came on Dempster's 114th pitch. Quade checked with his starter in the sixth, and the right-hander said he was OK.

"He's earned the right for me to ask him," Quade said. "It's a little different than going out to talk to [Andrew Cashner] and say, 'Let's figure out how we want to do this.'"

In the Cubs' first, Castro was safe on an infield hit that Pedro Alvarez had trouble getting a grip on. Castro then scampered home on Alvarez's throwing error as he fielded Marlon Byrd's grounder but overthrew Lyle Overbay at first. The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the third, and Carlos Pena picked up his first RBI when he hit into a force at second to make it 2-0. Kosuke Fukudome added an RBI single in the seventh.

The Cubs had enough hits and now need to work on timing.

"We hit the ball good," Aramis Ramirez said. "We just didn't have any extra-base hits or big hits. They got six runs on two swings."

"It'll come," Quade said. "Are you disappointed because you didn't get a big hit or are you happy that you created many opportunities and believe that if you keep creating them, you'll cash in on them? I prefer the latter and think we will cash in."

We told you he was an optimist.

It wasn't all good. The Cubs had a runner at first in the sixth and Pena swung at a 3-0 pitch, popping up into a force.

"I thought I had the green light because I missed the sign," Pena said. "I felt pretty good, got a good pitch to hit, but I hit the bottom part of the ball and popped it up."

It was miscommunication.

"Carlos came over and said, 'I screwed that up,'" Quade said.

Correia (1-0) struck out three and served up six hits over six-plus innings for the win. The Pirates, under new manager Clint Hurdle, picked up where they left off last season when they won 10 of 15 meetings.

"They just got us once this year," Dempster said. "We'll come out tomorrow and play a better game against them tomorrow."

This wasn't Quade's first game managing in the big leagues or his first game at Wrigley Field, but it was his first Opening Day as a big league manager and this is his hometown. No happy ending.

"Let's come back and go to work tomorrow," Quade said. "Ultimately, we got beat today and we have to figure out a way to beat these guys tomorrow, whether it's the second game of the season or whatever."

He rode the "L" train to the ballpark on Friday and planned to do the same on Saturday. Will he wear a disguise?

"I've got Pittsburgh gear," he said, smiling. "My routine is not going to change."

MLB.com Comments