Game Rewind: Pirates at Cubs, April 23, 2005

During the birthdays in today’s (January 16th) This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History article, we mentioned that infielder Alfredo Amezaga played just three games for the 2005 Pirates. One of those games was a very exciting contest on April 23rd against the Chicago Cubs, which went back-and-forth late.

The Pirates were off to a slow start during the 2005 season. Going into this game, they had a 5-11 record. The Cubs were sitting at the .500 mark, going 8-8 in their first 16 games. The Pirates sent Mark Redman out to the mound on this windy and cold Saturday afternoon. He was off to a strong start during his only season with the Pirates. His mound opponent was the only Hall of Famer to see action in this game, the great Greg Maddux. The 39-year-old was off to a somewhat slow start to his 20th season in the majors.

Maddux and Redman exchanged 1-2-3 innings in the first frame. Maddux also quickly worked through the second inning, getting Craig Wilson, Rob Mackowiak and Bobby Hill on ground outs. In the bottom of the second, Jason Dubois collected a one-out single for the first runner of the game. However, he was quickly erased on a double play ball off of the bat of Jeromy Burnitz. Through two innings, both pitchers faced the minimum.

In the third inning, Maddux got through the bottom of the order on 11 pitches. In the bottom of the inning, the Cubs were first on the board. Michael Barrett walked to start the inning, then moved to second base on a single by Neifi Perez. Maddux tried to bunt the runners over, but the Pirates were able to get the runner at third. Lead-off hitter Jerry Hairston then followed with a double that brought home Perez with the first run. That was all for the Cubs, as Redman retired Corey Patterson on a pop up, then he got Derrek Lee to strike out looking.

In the fourth, the Pirates got their first base runner when Maddux hit Matt Lawton to start the inning. Tike Redman then popped up behind first base and Lawton got doubled off. That hurt the Pirates, as Jason Bay followed with a triple for the first Pittsburgh hit. Craig Wilson struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs went down in order in the fifth, then Maddux had another quick inning, retiring Mackowiak, Hill and Jack Wilson on nine pitches. In the bottom of the fifth, the Cubs got a bunt hit by Neifi Perez and nothing else. Maddux had an even quicker inning in the sixth, getting David Ross, Redman and Lawton to all ground out. He needed just eight pitches in this frame.

In the bottom of the sixth, Redman walked Derrek Lee, who was thrown out trying to steal. He then walked Aramis Ramirez, who scored all the way from first on a two-out double by Jason Dubois. Jeromy Burnitz followed with a strikeout to keep it a 2-0 game for the Cubs.

The seventh started off like another typical Maddux inning. He retired the first two batters on seven pitches total, then he allowed a two-out single to Craig Wilson. A wild pitch moved Wilson to second base, then he scored on a single by Mackowiak to make it a 2-1 game. Mackowiak stole second base, then scored on a double by Bobby Hill, which tied the game. Maddux got Jack Wilson to ground out back to the mound to end the inning.

Redman remained out in the seventh and the Cubs stayed with Maddux as well. After Neifi Perez reached on a one-out walk, Maddux sacrificed him over to second base. Redman retired Jerry Hairston on a fly ball to keep it a 2-2 game.

After David Ross struck out to start the eighth, Daryle Ward pinch-hit for Redman and drew a walk. Alfredo Amezaga ran for Ward and immediately stole second base. However, he was doubled off of second on a fly ball to center field, which ended the eighth inning for the Pirates.

Salomon Torres came on to relieve Redman and his second pitch was planted in the right field bleachers by Corey Patterson, making it a 3-2 game. Derrek Lee doubled, then Torres retired Aramis Ramirez on a fly ball. John Grabow then came on in relief and he retired Jose Macias and Jeromy Burnitz to end the inning.

The Pirates were down to their final three outs and the Cubs decided to pull Maddux in favor of LaTroy Hawkins. He got Tike Redman to fly out to start the inning, then Jason Bay hit the second pitch he saw for a homer, which tied up the game. It was Bay’s second home run of the season. After the Bay homer, Craig Wilson walked and stole second. Mackowiak struck out for the second out, then Freddy Sanchez pinch-hit for Bobby Hill. The Cubs took out Hawkins and brought in Glendon Rusch. Sanchez hit a double that scored Wilson and made it a 4-3 game. Rusch retired Jack Wilson on the grounder, sending it to the bottom of the ninth.

Jose Mesa came on to try to close out the game for the Pirates. Mesa recorded the first out, then allowed a single to Neifi Perez. After getting Todd Hollandsworth to strike out swinging, Mesa faced pinch-hitter Ben Grieve. He hit a broken bat single to right-center, which moved Perez to third base. With the tying run 90 feet away and the winning run now on base, Mesa made quick work of Corey Patterson to end the game, getting a strikeout on three pitches.

The Pirates moved to 6-11 on the season and Mesa had saves in all six wins. Both starters allowed two runs, but neither factored in the decision. The Pirates had just six hits all game and three of them came during consecutive batters in the eighth inning. The Cubs had 13 base runners in the game, but they went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and they left eight runners on base. While right now it doesn’t seem like a surprising decision to pinch-hit Freddy Sanchez for Bobby Hill, at the time it was a curious move by Lloyd McClendon, because Hill had a .409 average for the season, and he had a big hit in his previous at-bat to tie the game.

Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.