Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's More Marte Homer Helps Clinch Playoff Berth, 1st since 1992 Pirates 2, Cubs 1

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

There's More Marte Homer Helps Clinch Playoff Berth, 1st since 1992 Pirates 2, Cubs 1

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- Starling Marte delivered the knockout blow Monday night, but it also served as the ultimate bail-out.

After clinging to a one-run lead most of the game thanks to an exceptional outing by Charlie Morton, the Pirates bullpen allowed the Chicago Cubs to tie it. Marte, who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, hit a tiebreaking home run to give the Pirates a 2-1 win Monday night at Wrigley Field.

That left the Pirates to turn their attention to St. Louis, where the Washington Nationals, the last team standing between them and a playoff spot, fell to the Cardinals, 4-3, to clinch the Pirates' first postseason berth since 1992.

With two outs in the ninth, Marte hit a 2-1 hanging slider from Kevin Gregg out to left field for his 12th home run of the season.

Manager Clint Hurdle used left-hander Tony Watson to retire Cubs slugger Anthony Rizzo in the bottom of the ninth, then brought in closer Jason Grilli for the remaining two outs and a chance to earn his 32nd save. He did, thanks to some help on defense from first baseman Justin Morneau.

Morneau scooped a throw, made a diving stop, and relayed a ball to the plate to retire Nate Schierholtz -- trying to score from first -- for the final out.

Grilli hugged catcher Russell Martin near the plate, and Martin heaved the ball back toward the left-field bleachers.

The Pirates led, 1-0, for the first seven innings thanks to Neil Walker's first-inning home run, but the Cubs tied the score in the eighth.

Mark Melancon replaced Morton, who had given up a hit in each of the previous two innings but was at 89 pitches and cruising, in the eighth. Brian Bogusevic hit a leadoff single. He took second on Darwin Barney's grounder back to Melancon and went to third on a wild pitch.

Pinch-hitter Donnie Murphy singled past Pedro Alvarez, who was playing shallow to cut off the runner at the plate, and Bogusevic scored.

Morton followed one stellar start with another, throwing seven scoreless innings and allowing three hits, a walk and five strikeouts. His previous time out, Wednesday against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park, Morton pitched eight innings of one-run ball and allowed only two hits and one walk. …

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