Matt Hague was the embodiment of taking one for the team on Saturday.
Hague was hit by a pitch from Cubs' reliever Rafael Dolis (2-4) with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, giving Pittsburgh a rather painful 3-2 victory over Chicago in the middle tilt of a three-game set at PNC Park.
"Yeah, it hurt," Hague said of taking the game-winning pitch right in the back. "Once I got to first base and everyone kept punching me right where I got hit, it didn't feel good. I was going to make him (Dolis) throw a strike, and I was just trying to put a good at-bat together and he ended up hitting me."
Jose Tabata started the rally with a single up the middle and Josh Harrison walked. Andrew McCutchen then struck out and Pedro Alvarez flied out, which allowed Tabata to tag up and go to third. Harrison hustled to second on defensive indifference and Neil Walker drew a walk to load the bases,
Hague battled Dolis to a full count before being drilled by a 96 mile-per-hour fastball to give his team the victory in walkoff fashion and make a winner out of Joel Hanrahan (2-0), who worked a perfect top of the inning.
Alvarez had an RBI single and Walker knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly for the Pirates, who have won the first two games of this series.
Pittsburgh also got a strong performance on the mound from starter Kevin Correia, who allowed just the two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out two over 6 1/3 innings in the no-decision. He had lost his last five decisions entering Saturday's game.
Alfonso Soriano crushed a solo homer and Starlin Castro added an RBI triple for the Cubs, who lost for the 11th consecutive time and are now just three losses away from matching a franchise-worst 14-game skid, which occurred in 1997.
"Once again, you're not going to win too many games when you score two runs," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "That's still obviously an issue."
Paul Maholm faced his former team for the first time since signing with the Cubs as a free agent over the winter. He allowed two runs on four hits and five walks while whiffing two over five innings.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the third inning. Tabata was plunked to start the frame and moved to second on a sac-bunt by Harrison. McCutchen was intentionally walked to put men on first and second. Alvarez came through with a base hit up the middle to score Tabata and McCutchen came home on a sac-fly by Walker.
The Cubs cut the deficit to one in the fourth when Soriano got a fastball out over the plate from Correia and laced it deep and gone to dead center field.
David DeJesus clubbed a two-out double into left in the fifth and Castro brought him home with a triple into the right field corner to tie the game at two.
Chicago finished 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Entering play on Saturday, the Cubs were hitless in their last 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position...McCutchen (2-for-3) has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games against the Cubs and 39 of his 42 career contests against Chicago...Maholm broke into the majors in 2005 and pitched seven seasons in the Steel City. He is franchise's all-time winningest pitcher at PNC Park with 35 victories to his credit...Pittsburgh improved to 7-0 in games played on Saturdays.