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PITTSBURGH -- Edwin Jackson gave the Chicago Cubs everything they needed in his first start of the season. He worked five efficient innings in frigid temperatures and kept the Pittsburgh Pirates mostly in check.
The Cubs, however, didn't provide any support for Jackson in a 3-0 loss on Wednesday night.
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Jackson gave up two runs and three hits, struck out five and walked one. His only hiccup came in the fourth, when a single by Garrett Jones, a double by Andrew McCutchen and an error by shortstop Starlin Castro gave the Pirates all the cushion starter Wandy Rodriguez needed.
"Just a tough one for us tonight," Jackson said. "More times than not the situations we had, I like our chances coming through and scoring runs."
Jackson began the night 4-0 in six career starts against Pittsburgh. He pitched well enough to remain unbeaten and might have tacked on another win against the Pirates if not for Rodriguez.
The 34-year-old left-hander gave up two hits in 6 2-3 innings and worked out of his only jam in the seventh by striking out Brent Lillibridge on a full-count curveball.
Rodriguez had cruised until seventh, when his command temporarily abandoned him. He drilled Anthony Rizzo in the shoulder, gave up a single to Alfonso Soriano and pelted Welington Castillo in the knee to load the bases with one out.
It led to a 10-pitch duel with Lillibridge, one Rodriguez barely survived. Twice Lillibridge drilled a Rodriguez fastball down the left-field line. One landed inches to the left of the chalk. The other sailed just wide of the foul pole. Rodriguez took advantage of the reprieve, locking up Lillibridge with a 76 mph breaking ball.
"He's a pro," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "That's a pro's pitch. No kid is going to throw that pitch."
Rodriguez walked off to a rousing ovation and made way for left-hander Tony Watson, who fell behind pinch hitter Alberto Gonzalez 3-0 before battling back with two called strikes then getting out of the jam with a routine fly to center.
"We had two great at-bats," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said. "Lillibridge had a great at-bat as well as Gonzalez. He took it to 3-2 and put a good swing on it and just missed the ball to center field."
Jason Grilli, promoted to the closer's role in the offseason, worked the ninth for his first save.
Rodriguez, acquired in a trade deadline deal with Houston last July, struck out six and walked one in a continuation of his strong spring. Rodriguez helped the Dominican Republic to the World Baseball Classic championship last month, going 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA in two starts. He carried the momentum forward in his first April start for someone other than the Astros.
Expertly mixing his breaking ball with a pinpoint fastball, Rodriguez kept the Cubs off balance all night.
And unlike the opener -- when the Pirates couldn't take advantage of a steady performance by A.J. Burnett -- the Pirates gave Rodriguez some help.
Jones led off the fourth with a base hit and scored on an perfectly executed hit-and-run when McCutchen doubled to the left-field corner. McCutchen moved to third on a groundout by Pedro Alvarez then came home when Castro couldn't come up with a sharply hit grounder by Gaby Sanchez.
Starling Marte gave the Pirates some wiggle room with a single that plated Clint Barmes from second in the seventh.
Watson and Grilli took care of the rest.
The 36-year-old Grilli, closing for the first time in his journeyman career, retired the Cubs in order in the ninth. He struck out Nate Schierholtz looking to end it and celebrated with a fist pump as fireworks exploded behind him.
"My heart was beating a little faster, but controllable," Grilli said. "Facing the heart of the order, I've done that before."
|Players of the Game|
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|Dave Sappelt, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.000|
|Hector Rondon, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Michael Bowden, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Dioner Navarro, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Shawn Camp, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Hisanori Takahashi, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Starlin Castro, SS||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.250|
|Anthony Rizzo, 1B||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.167|
|Alfonso Soriano, LF||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.125|
|Scott Hairston, RF||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.000|
|b- Nate Schierholtz, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.333|
|Welington Castillo, C||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.333|
|Brent Lillibridge, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.000|
|Alberto Gonzalez, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||3||.250|
|Edwin Jackson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- David DeJesus, PH-CF||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for Bowden in the 8th|
|b-struck out for Hairston in the 9th|
|c-grounded out for Jackson in the 6th|
|SH - Edwin Jackson (1)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|E - Starlin Castro (1, Misplayed grounder)|
|Edwin Jackson (L,0-1)||5||3||2||2||1||5||0||3.60|
|IBB - Walker by Hector Rondon|
|Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 92-57, Hector Rondon 23-9, Michael Bowden 12-8, Shawn Camp 12-9, Hisanori Takahashi 3-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 8-3, Michael Bowden 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 20, Hector Rondon 5, Michael Bowden 4, Shawn Camp 3, Hisanori Takahashi 1|
|Starling Marte, LF||4||0||1||1||0||1||0||.143|
|Garrett Jones, RF||4||1||1||0||0||2||0||.125|
|Travis Snider, RF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||3||1||1||1||1||1||0||.333|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.250|
|Gaby Sanchez, 1B||4||0||0||1||0||1||1||.000|
|Neil Walker, 2B||2||0||1||0||2||0||1||.333|
|Russell Martin, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||4||.000|
|Clint Barmes, SS||3||1||1||0||0||0||2||.200|
|Wandy Rodriguez, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.000|
|Tony Watson, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jason Grilli, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|2B - Andrew McCutchen (2, Jackson), Clint Barmes (1, Bowden)|
|SH - Tony Watson (1)|
|RBI - Starling Marte (1), Andrew McCutchen (1), Gaby Sanchez (1)|
|SB - Andrew McCutchen (2, 2nd base off Rondon/Castillo)|
|CS - Starling Marte (1, 2nd base by Bowden/Castillo)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|Wandy Rodriguez (W,1-0)||6.2||2||0||0||1||6||0||0.00|
|Tony Watson (H,1)||1.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.00|
|Jason Grilli (S,1)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||0.00|
|HBP - Rizzo (by Wandy Rodriguez), Castillo (by Wandy Rodriguez)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Wandy Rodriguez 103-68, Tony Watson 16-11, Jason Grilli 9-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wandy Rodriguez 3-11, Tony Watson 2-1, Jason Grilli 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Wandy Rodriguez 25, Tony Watson 4, Jason Grilli 3|
|Attendance - 27667|
|Game Time - 2:55|
|Temperature - 35|
|Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Phil Cuzzi, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Tom Hallion|