CHICAGO – Earlier in the night, it already looked like he would play the hero in a more traditional way at Wrigley Field.
After Rafael Ortega tied the game against the Pirates on Thursday in the seventh inning with a three-run homer, Ian Happ knocked a two-run blast into the bleachers to give the Cubs a 5-3 lead.
But some issues in the ninth inning forced extra innings, and with a runner on third in the 11th, Happ had the chance to play the hero again. He would end up doing just that but in a much more bizarre way than usual.
With one out, Happ hit what looked like the second out of the inning to second base, but Wilmer Difo had trouble locating it, and the ball fell to his right. Sergio Alcantara would race home to score the winning run in a 6-5 victory to start a four-game series against the Pirates.
The very unusual walk-off gives the Cubs their first three-game winning streak since mid-June, when they won five-in-a-row against the Padres and Cardinals from June 8-12.
Difo’s error completed a back-and-forth game in which the Pirates took a first inning lead on a three-run homer by Colin Moran off Keegan Thompson. The Cubs’ middle relievers would hold Pittsburgh off the scoreboard the next seven innings before the home team got five runs in the seventh on the homers by Ortega and Happ.
Rowan Wick had the shot for the save in the ninth, but the Pirates would get three hits and two runs to force the game to extra innings. Once again, Cubs relievers held Pittsburgh off the scoreboard in the 10th and 11th before the offense finally came through in the 11th thanks to some help from their opponents.