Cubs get first win of season

Hold on to beat Pirates, 3-2

Published: April 3 2014 | 9:50 pm - Updated: 7 April 2014 | 3:10 pm in

PITTSBURGH -- There were firsts all around for the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

The Cubs got their first win of the season, holding on for a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The game included right-hander Jason Hammel's first win with the Cubs, rookie third baseman Mike Olt's first major league home run and first-year manager Rick Renteria's first career victory.

The Cubs avoided being swept in the season-opening three games after losing the first two games in extra innings.

"I didn't think (the first win) was going to be such a relief, but it was quite a relief," Renteria said. "It's nice to win. These games were tough. Taking the last one was very gratifying. They were three really hard-fought games."

Hammel took a shutout into the seventh inning in his Cubs debut and red-hot center fielder Emilio Bonifacio had two more hits.

Hammel (1-0) allowed only one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings while walking one and striking out five. He signed a one-year, $6 million contract in the offseason after going 7-8 with a 4.97 ERA last year for the Baltimore Orioles in a season marred by a knee injury.

"I've been in spring training with these guys for six weeks, so they know what I can do. So, for me, the big thing is that the team got a win because we needed one," Hammel said. "Personally, getting the first one is nice and always the most difficult one to get out of the way, but getting a win as a team was huge because we played three great games here and leave with something to show for it."

Hammel left after walking second baseman Neil Walker with none on and two outs in the seventh inning and a 3-0 lead. Two batters later, catcher Tony Sanchez hit a two-run single off right-hander Justin Grimm to make it a one-run game.

"I'm mad at myself for walking Walker with two outs," Hammel said. "You can't let that happen. It could have cost us the game."

The Cubs held on, though, and right-hander Pedro Strop worked around a leadoff single to pitch a scoreless ninth for his first save.

Pirates left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (0-1) was solid in his first start since last June 5 as he spent the rest of the season on the disabled list with stiffness in his forearm and elbow. He gave up three runs and five hits in six innings with one walk and five strikeouts.

Rodriguez said he woke up feeling nervous but settled down by the time he took the mound.

"When I come to the stadium, I know that I'm very good," he said. "I threw well in spring training, but today is different. Emotional, everything is different right here, but you know what, everything felt good so I'm good."

Bonifacio went 2-for-4 and 11-for-15 so far in the young season with four stolen bases. His batting average dropped to .688 on Thursday from .750.

"He's on fire and I hope it keeps up," Renteria said.

Bonifacio led off with a single, stole second and scored on first baseman Anthony Rizzo's two-out single in the first inning to open the scoring.

After Olt's first home run made it 2-0 in the second, Bonifacio again sparked the Cubs in the third. He led off with a double and scored when center fielder Justin Ruggiano grounded into a double play.

Renteria was particularly impressed by Olt's jolt to the opposite field in right.

"That shows you the type of thump he's got in his stick," Renteria said.

NOTES: Cubs RHP Carlos Villanueva is still tentatively scheduled to start Sunday against the Philadelphia Phillies despite pitching in relief in each of the Cubs' first two games on Monday and Wednesday. ... Pirates C Tony Sanchez made his first start of the season on Thursday, spelling C Russell Martin, after driving in the winning run with a pinch-RBI single in the 16th inning on Wednesday night. ... The Cubs begin their 100th season at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon against the Phillies in the home opener with LHP Travis Wood scheduled to face RHP Roberto Hernandez. ... The Pirates open a three-game home series against the Cardinals on Friday night in a rematch of last year's National League Division Series won by St. Louis. Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole is scheduled to pitch against St. Louis RHP Shelby Miller.

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