Cubs Drop 2 of 3 in Opening Series

Victory alluded Cubs after meltdown

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Matt Garza did his job well over the weekend, but couldn't snag the Cubs a win.

    Matt Garza pitched well enough to win his debut with the Chicago Cubs despite giving up a career-high 12 hits — all singles.

    The right-hander was in control of his pitches. He struck out a career-best 12 and didn't issue a walk, leaving after seven innings with a 4-3 lead.

    But the victory eluded him and the Cubs after the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied for two runs in the ninth against closer Carlos Marmol for a 5-4 win Sunday.

    "It just didn't fall our way. That's all it is," Garza said. "They found a hole, they found a way. It happens."

    Garza, who struggled this spring, was the Cubs' major offseason acquisition, coming over in a trade from Tampa Bay after winning 15 games last season for the Rays in the tough AL East.

    "Even though the 12 singles are annoying, I just kept telling myself to get to the next pitch and keep attacking," Garza said.

    He wasn't the least bit fazed, he said, by his first game at Wrigley Field, the second-oldest park in the majors.

    "Nothing different. I've been pitching in the big leagues parts of five years, been pitching in baseball games since I was 8," Garza said. "The dimensions don't change. ... I just kept doing my thing."

    With the Cubs leading 4-3, Pittsburgh's Garrett Jones led off the ninth with a walk against Marmol (0-1) and Neil Walker singled before Lyle Overbay sacrificed to put runners at second and third.

    Pedro Alvarez hit a slow roller to shortstop Starlin Castro. As Jones raced home, Castro's throw to first pulled Carlos Pena off the bag and Walker rounded third. Pena threw to the plate, but Walker made a hard slide under Cubs catcher Geovany Soto to score the go-ahead run.

    "A tough one for sure," Chicago manager Mike Quade said.

    "Carlos (Pena) did a heck of a job fielding it and nearly throwing the guy out at home. Seems like one of those days where there was a lot of stuff."

    In the eighth inning, the Cubs cut down a runner at the plate on a strong throw from right fielder Tyler Colvin. An inning later, Walker scored all the way from second on an infield single.

    "It's how the game is played," Soto said. "One for two and they got the important one."

    Jeff Karstens (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win and Joel Hanrahan the ninth for his second save, getting Marlon Byrd to hit into a game-ending double play after an error by Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno helped the Cubs put runners at first and third.

    Alfonso Soriano homered in the sixth against Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf to put Chicago up 4-3. And Castro, moved into the leadoff spot for one game, had a pair of triples and three hits.

    The Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the second on consecutive singles by Darwin Barney, Byrd and Aramis Ramirez.

    That's when Pena hit a long drive that looked as though it would be gone. Instead, the ball hit high off the ivy in right field as a fan preparing to catch it spilled his drink over the wall. Jones couldn't make the leaping catch and Pena's double tied the game.

    "I thought I hit the ball well enough for it to be a homer," Pena said.

    Before the ball hit the wall, the three runners had to make sure it wasn't caught, so only two scored. The Cubs also failed to turn a double play in the third before the Pirates scored a run.

    "My sense is we'll be in a lot of these type games," Quade said. "You work like heck and eliminate the mistakes."