Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Tony Sanchez ended a marathon at PNC Park that lasted nearly six hours with a pinch-hit RBI single in the 16th inning, as the Pirates outlasted the Chicago Cubs, 4-3, in another extra-inning win for Pittsburgh.
Two nights after they edged Chicago, 1-0, on Opening Day, the Pirates plated the winning run again against Carlos Villanueva (0-2), who surrendered Neil Walker's walk-off homer in the 10th on Monday.
Jordy Mercer singled to open the deciding frame, hustled to third on Starling Marte's one-out base hit and trotted home when Sanchez, in his first at-bat of the season, dribbled one through a drawn-in infield to send the few remaining Pirates fans into a frenzy.
This three-game series concludes Thursday with the first pitch set for 12:35 p.m. (et), less than 12 hours after Sanchez's game-winner.
It was the longest game ever played in Pittsburgh in terms of time (5:55).
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to end the replay-filled stalemate sooner. Pittsburgh stranded 15 runners and Chicago left 19 on after going 1- for-16 with runners in scoring position.
"Both teams had opportunities to put this game away before it got taken care of," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
The Pirates were in a pickle in the eighth. That's when Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged an out call that would have resulted in an inning-ending double play.
Emilio Bonifacio and Luis Valbuena singled, and the runners advanced on a Starlin Castro groundout. After Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Mark Melancon got Nate Schierholtz to hit a potential double-play ball. The throw from Walker at second base was high to Mercer covering second, but umpires originally ruled the double play when Mercer's return throw to first was easily in time.
Replay, though, showed Mercer came off the bag before he made the catch. That made it a 2-1 game and put runners at second and third, though Ryan Sweeney grounded softly to second to end the frame.
Junior Lake and Bonifacio singled in the away ninth. With two outs, Valbuena singled to tie the game. The Cubs had been 0-for-19 with men in scoring position in this series until Valbuena's solid single to right field brought home Lake from second base.
The Cubs went ahead in the 12th. Rizzo, who was hit by pitches twice on the right thigh earlier in the contest, led off the frame by crushing a ball over the right field wall on the ninth pitch of the at-bat against Jeanmar Gomez.
The game was tied again in the bottom half thanks to Marte's line base hit to left on a 3-2 pitch that brought in pinch-runner Clint Barmes. Andrew McCutchen, last season's NL MVP, fanned with the bases full to end the inning.
The Pirates had a golden opportunity to win in the bottom of the 13th after loading the bases with nobody out. Barmes, though, grounded into a 7-2-3 double play after the Cubs brought in a fifth infielder. Jose Tabata then grounded into a force play to send the game to the 14th.
Lake fanned to leave runners at the corners in the top of the 14th.
"We did everything we could possibly do," Renteria said. "The guys kept coming back and that's a good sign for all of us."
Charlie Morton pitched six shutout innings for Pittsburgh. He allowed four hits, a walk and had six strikeouts, and was cruising until being removed after the top of the sixth when a line drive from Schierholtz caromed off his glove and resulted in a double play.
Edwin Jackson threw the first 5 1/3 frames for the Cubs and gave up just two hits, but walked four while fanning five.
Pittsburgh's first two runs came on a Mercer single in the second and on an error in the sixth. The ball went by the glove of Castro, allowing Marte to come home.
Bonifacio went 5-for-7 with a run scored. The Cubs infielder is 9-for-12 in the first two games ... The Cubs used eight relievers while Pittsburgh used six ... The Cubs recorded 15 hits to Pittsburgh's eight.