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Pirates finish surprising first half with win over Cubs

Jul 10, 2011 - 10:57 PM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates are 47-43 at the All-Star break.

Hard to believe.

The Pirates wrapped up their best first half in 19 years with a 9-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Sunday. McCutchen, who was named to the NL All-Star team on Saturday, hit a three-run homer and knocked in five as Pittsburgh won two of three in the weekend series.

Paul Maholm (6-9) worked into the eighth inning for the win, striking out eight and allowing just four hits and a run to improve to 9-2 in 16 career starts against the Cubs.

"If you play good baseball, you got a chance to win. We played better than them today. We flat-out outpitched them, we out-fielded them, we outhit them," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Ramon Ortiz (0-2) lost his second straight start since being called up from the minors after giving up six runs and seven hits in four-plus innings.

Darwin Barney had two of Chicago's four hits and the Cubs finished the first half by losing seven of their last 10 games. They head to the break with a record of 37-55.

"Time away should refresh [us]," said Cubs manager Mike Quade.

McCutchen hit sacrifice flies in the first and fifth innings. But his big blow came in the third, when he launched Ortiz's 0-1 fastball deep over the wall in center field for his 14th homer of the season and 5-0 lead.

The Pirates center fielder was added to the NL All-Star roster as a replacement for injured Brewers star Ryan Braun, fixing what many observers believed was a snub in the first place.

He joined Pittsburgh closer Joel Hanrahan, who was previously voted onto the team. Starter Kevin Correia, who lost Saturday's game, was added to the team Sunday because Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels threw against the Braves.

"I think one of the most interesting things that maybe a lot of people didn't know about Kevin is that he wanted to go somewhere where he could be at the top of the rotation," said Hurdle. "And obviously we were able to afford him that opportunity.

"He competes. He came to spring training focused ... and he's been our lead guy through the first half. ...It's very rewarding a very deserving for Kevin to be the third person to go."

It will be the first time the Pirates have three All-Stars since Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Neal Heaton made the team in 1990.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Hurdle said.

Chris Resop spelled Maholm with two outs in the eighth inning Sunday with a runner at second base and Jose Veras struck out two in a perfect ninth. Hanrahan got the day off, but finished the first half with a club-record 26 saves before the All-Star break.

The Pirates haven't been above .500 at the All-Star break since they went 49-39 in 1992.

Neil Walker hit an RBI double on Sunday and was 3-for-4 with two runs scored for the Pirates, who scored their nine runs on nine hits. Alex Presley added two hits and scored twice.

Chicago's only run came on Aramis Ramirez's groundout in the fourth inning, which scored Reed Johnson after he led off with a double and went to third on Starlin Castro's single.

Game Notes

Home plate umpire John Hirschbeck was hit in the groin area by an Alfonso Soriano foul ball in the fifth inning. He dropped to the ground and remained there for several minutes, finally receiving smelling salts...Ortiz, 38, was 6-3 in 16 starts a Triple-A Iowa before he was called up to pitch against Washington on Tuesday...The Pirates were 43-43 at the All-Star break in 1997.

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    Cubs 1, Pirates 9  FinalJul 11 4:26 PM

  • CHICAGO: 1

    Jul 10 4:15 PM

  • John Grabow wild pitch scored Michael McKenry, Garrett Jones advances to third. Runner on third with two outs and Alex Presley at the plate.

    Cubs 1, Pirates 9  Bot 8, 2 OutsJul 10 4:04 PM

  • Andrew McCutchen sacrifice fly to center scored Neil Walker. None on with one out and Lyle Overbay due up.

    Cubs 1, Pirates 6  Bot 5, 1 OutJul 10 2:59 PM

  • Aramis Ramirez grounded into a fielder's choice, short to second scored Reed Johnson. Starlin Castro out at second. Runner on first with one out and Jeff Baker due up.

    Cubs 1, Pirates 5  Top 4, 1 OutJul 10 2:29 PM

  • Andrew McCutchen one-out, three-run Home Run (14) to center scored Alex Presley and Neil Walker. Lyle Overbay due up.

    Cubs 0, Pirates 5  Bot 3, 1 OutJul 10 2:21 PM

  • Neil Walker doubled to right scored Paul Maholm. On the play, Alex Presley advances to third. Runners on second and third with one out and Andrew McCutchen due up.

    Cubs 0, Pirates 2  Bot 3, 1 OutJul 10 2:20 PM

  • Lyle Overbay grounded out second to first to end the inning.

    Cubs 0, Pirates 1  End 1Jul 10 1:52 PM

  • CHICAGO: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Jul 10 1:36 PM
  • 23
    GREGnKY Added 10 roots

    Cubs vs. PiratesJul 10 7:56 AM
  • 13
    RUWTbot Added 13 roots

    Cubs vs. PiratesMar 31 2:29 PM