Pittsburgh, PA – Travis Wood pitched six shutout innings and Nate Schierholtz slugged a big two-run homer, as the Chicago Cubs held on for a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh in the rubber match of a three-game series at PNC Park.
Wood (1-0) surrendered just one hit, walked two and struck out four. He also singled and scored a run to help the Cubs win a season-opening series for the first time since 2009.
Starlin Castro knocked in Wood with a two-out single in the third inning and Schierholtz provided some much-needed insurance with a two-out blast in the ninth.
Chicago was clinging to a 1-0 lead heading to the ninth and Anthony Rizzo drew a walk with one out before Schierholtz drilled a Mark Melancon two-out offering over the wall in center field.
Cubs closer Carlos Marmol nearly blew it.
Starling Marte singled to start the home half of the inning and Russell Martin drew a walk before Andrew McCutchen singled home a run. Gaby Sanchez then slapped an 0-2 pitch just under the glove of a diving Rizzo at first for a base hit to score Martin.
Marmol, though, struck out Pedro Alvarez and got Neil Walker to roll into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game for his first save.
"We know things like that can get interesting with him," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said of Marmol. "He got the groundball, struck out Alvarez and got the groundball when he needed it."
James McDonald (0-1) pitched well in defeat, allowing just a run on two hits with a pair of walks and four strikeouts in seven strong innings.
"A really good outing from James," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of his starter. "Everything we talked about before the game played out for him."
The Cubs picked up a run in the third when Wood singled with one out, advanced to second on a grounder and scored on a base hit up the middle by Castro.
Pittsburgh's lone hit against Wood came in the bottom of the inning, when Clint Barmes doubled with one out. He was stranded there, however, as McDonald bounced to third and Marte flied harmlessly to center.
The Pirates didn't get another base runner until the sixth, when McDonald walked with one out. Wood fanned Marte, however, before Martin grounded out.
McCutchen started the Pittsburgh seventh by reaching on an error and stole second, but Shawn Camp struck out Sanchez and James Russell got Alvarez on a foul pop. McCutchen then swiped third, but Russell caught Walker looking at a third strike to end the inning.
Wood improved to 4-1 and lowered his earned run average to 1.61 in five games, including four starts, against the Pirates at PNC Park ... McDonald fell to 0-4 lifetime in eight games, including seven starts, against Chicago ... The Cubs continue a season-opening six-game road trip Friday with the start of a three-game set in Atlanta ... Pittsburgh starts a six-game road trip Friday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.