PITTSBURGH (AP) — Neil Walker hit his first major league home run to put the Pirates ahead in the eighth and Pittsburgh beat the Chicago Cubs for the seventh time this season, 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Walker, who grew up in Pittsburgh's suburbs and was the Pirates' first-round draft choice in 2004, hit a 0-1 pitch from Ted Lilly (1-5) into the seats in the deepest part of the ballpark in left-center with Andrew McCutchen on and one out.
The Pirates improved to 7-1 against the Cubs this season — they're 15-30 against everyone else — and have won nine of their past 10 against Chicago overall.
Xavier Nady — one of several backups in the Cubs lineup — had four hits, including his third home run, but Chicago lost for the fourth time in five games.
Pittsburgh's Garrett Jones homered for the second consecutive day, Joel Hanrahan (2-1) pitched a perfect top of the eighth and Octavio Dotel worked the ninth for his 12th save in 14 opportunities — his ninth successful conversion in a row.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella trying desperately to find a lineup that will produce consistent offense, juggled his starters again. Chicago had scored only nine runs in its previous four games.
No fewer than four Cubs regulars did not start — and that doesn't even include Ryan Theriot, who was recently benched for Mike Fontenot at second base. Nady started for Derrek Lee at first, Jeff Baker replaced Aramis Ramirez at third, Tyler Colvin played center over Marlon Byrd and catcher Geovany Soto sat in favor of Koyie Hill.
It paid off quickly when Nady homered with Kosuke Fukudome aboard and one out in the third. It gave Chicago a 2-0 lead and twice as many runs as it had scored in four of the previous five games.
The Cubs' most recent three wins had come by shutout. Jones erased that possibility when he led off the fourth with his seventh home run.
An inning prior, Pittsburgh had an apparent run taken away when Lasting Milledge hit a fly ball into the 410-foot gap in left-center with starting pitcher Jeff Karstens on first and two outs. Karstens was going to score easily — but Milledge was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
For a team with its own offensive troubles — the Pirates, at 15th, rank two spots below the Cubs in the National League in runs — wasting an opportunity to score appeared too much to overcome until the eighth.
Lilly (1-5) hadn't officially pitched more than seven innings since September, but threw a season-high 112 pitches Tuesday.
After getting pinch-hitter Jeff Clement to pop out to begin the eighth, Lilly walked McCutchen before Walker hit his fastball into the seats to give him at least one hit in six of his eight games since being called up last week.
Making his first start since May 8, Karstens allowed two runs on six hits in six innings.
Notes: The Pirates were held to three runs or less for the eighth straight game.... The Pirates had at least one home run for the fourth game in a row, a season high. ... Lilly has gone at least six innings and allowed three earned runs or less in each of his past five starts. ... Before this losing stretch, the Cubs had won 24 of their previous 30 against the Pirates.