Chicago at Pittsburgh

Final 10th
W: B. Morris (1-0) L: C. Villanueva (0-1)
HR: CHC - None   PIT - N. Walker (1)

Walker lifts Pirates to 1-0 win over Cubs with HR in 10th wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker understands not everybody is going to be a fan of Major League Baseball's expanded replay system, which threatens to slow down a sport that already struggles to be played with any sort of urgency.

Funny, there weren't many critics to be found on Monday at PNC Park.

Walker homered off Carlos Villanueva leading off the 10th inning, and the Pirates benefited from an overturned to call to beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0.

The Pittsburgh native turned on a Villanueva changeup and sent it sailing over the Clemente Wall in right field for the first walk-off of his career and the first by the Pirates on opening day since Bob Bailey homered off San Francisco's Juan Marichal in a 1-0, 10-inning victory in 1965.

''This one feels pretty special,'' Walker said. ''This is a special day for this team, this organization. We've come a long way.''

So has the game.

After spending decades fighting the advances of technology, Major League Baseball has embraced the concept. Many calls can be challenged this season under an expanded system, and both teams wasted little time putting umpires to work.

The Cubs made history by initiating the first review under the new guidelines. Chicago manager Rick Renteria challenged a double-play call in the top of the fifth following a demonstrative ''safe'' call by Jeff Samardzija following a poorly executed sacrifice bunt attempt. First base umpire Bob Davidson's decision was confirmed on replay.

''It was a combination of Samardzjia's reaction and what we were looking at,'' Renteria said. ''We're still trying to figure out what clear and compelling evidence is. It's a work in progress.''

Chicago's luck with replay didn't get any better later.

A safe call on a pickoff attempt by Bryan Morris (1-0) with one out in the top of the 10th was reversed after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle requested a replay, sending Chicago's Emilio Bonifacio back to the dugout after a delay of 2 1/2 minutes.

''Most of the time on pickoffs, it's got to be very noticeable for the umpire,'' Morris said. ''Those bang-bang plays are always going to go to the runner. I guess that's why it's good to have replay.''

The largest regular season crowd in PNC Park's 14-season history (39,833) roared its approval. The din only grew louder when Walker's drive to right field finished halfway up the seats. That capped a giddy day for a team freed from two decades of losing after a breakout 2013 in which it won 94 games and made the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

Former Pittsburgh star Barry Bonds presented centerfielder Andrew McCutchen with the NL MVP award that McCutchen earned last year. Bonds received mixed reviews, though the vitriol that accompanied his late career visits to Pittsburgh while playing for San Francisco was noticeably absent.

Bonifacio went 4 for 5 for Chicago, but the Cubs were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and wasted a fine start by Samardzija, who scattered five hits over seven innings.

''I was happy with the way I kept the ball down in the strike zone,'' Samardzija said. ''It helped to get the double plays because they made the overall outing look a little better than it really was.''

Travis Ishikawa had two of the six hits by Pittsburgh.

Starter Francisco Liriano tied a team record shared by three other pitchers for most strikeouts on opening day by fanning 10 in six innings. While he struggled with his command -- needing 104 pitches to get 18 outs -- he was sharp when he needed to be and Pittsburgh's bullpen did the rest.


Pirates C Chris Stewart took batting practice and says he is coming along ahead of schedule in his rehab from knee surgery. Stewart believes he can beat the timetable of late April for his return. ... Chicago OF Brian Bogusevic was unavailable because of ankle soreness. He is expected to be ready to play Wednesday. ... The teams are off Tuesday. Chicago's Edwin Jackson faces Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton on Wednesday night.

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Pittsburgh native Neil Walker gets the Pirates' season started with a bang, leading off the bottom of the 10th with a homer.  (USATSI)
Pittsburgh native Neil Walker gets the Pirates' season started with a bang, leading off the bottom of the 10th with a homer. (USATSI)

Players of the Game

N. Walker
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1

E. Bonifacio
AB 5
R 0
H 4
HR 0

Related Video

Chicago (N.L.) Cubs
Emilio Bonifacio, CF-2B5040001 .800
Junior Lake, LF4010021 .250
   Carlos Villanueva, P0000000 .000
Starlin Castro, SS3000101 .000
Anthony Rizzo, 1B4000034 .000
Mike Olt, 3B3000022 .000
   a-Luis Valbuena, PH-3B0000100 .000
Welington Castillo, C2000122 .000
Nate Schierholtz, RF4010012 .250
Darwin Barney, 2B2000101 .000
   b-Ryan Sweeney, PH-CF1000001 .000
Jeff Samardzija, P3000011 .000
   Pedro Strop, P0000000 .000
   Justin Grimm, P0000000 .000
   James Russell, P0000000 .000
   c-Ryan Kalish, PH-LF1000000 .000
a-walked for Olt in the 9th
b-fouled out for Barney in the 9th
c-grounded out for Russell in the 10th
2B - Emilio Bonifacio (1, Melancon)
SH - Junior Lake (1), Welington Castillo (1)
SB - Emilio Bonifacio (1, 2nd base off Liriano/Martin)
PK - Emilio Bonifacio (1, Morris)
Team LOB - 8
Outfield Assists - Emilio Bonifacio 1
DP - Barney-Castro-Rizzo, Barney-Castro-Rizzo-Bonifacio-Rizzo, Barney-Castro-Rizzo-Bonifacio-Rizzo-Castro-Rizzo
Chicago (N.L.) Cubs
Jeff Samardzija 7500230 0.00
Pedro Strop 1000010 0.00
Justin Grimm 0.1000110 0.00
James Russell 0.2000010 0.00
Carlos Villanueva (L,0-1) 0111001 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Samardzija 89-54, Pedro Strop 14-9, Justin Grimm 10-4, James Russell 7-4, Carlos Villanueva 8-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Samardzija 8-7, Pedro Strop 1-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Samardzija 25, Pedro Strop 3, Justin Grimm 2, James Russell 2, Carlos Villanueva 1
Pittsburgh Pirates
Starling Marte, LF3010100 .333
Travis Snider, RF3000112 .000
Andrew McCutchen, CF3010111 .333
Pedro Alvarez, 3B4000023 .000
Russell Martin, C4010001 .250
Neil Walker, 2B4111001 .250
Travis Ishikawa, 1B3020010 .667
Jordy Mercer, SS3000001 .000
Francisco Liriano, P2000001 .000
   Tony Watson, P0000000 .000
   Mark Melancon, P0000000 .000
   a-Josh Harrison, PH1000010 .000
   Jason Grilli, P0000000 .000
   Bryan Morris, P0000000 .000
a-struck out for Melancon in the 8th
2B - Starling Marte (1, Samardzija)
HR - Neil Walker (1, Villanueva)
RBI - Neil Walker (1)
Team LOB - 5
DP - Liriano-Alvarez-Walker
E - Travis Ishikawa (1, Missed catch of throw)
Pittsburgh Pirates
Francisco Liriano 64003100 0.00
Tony Watson 1000000 0.00
Mark Melancon 1100000 0.00
Jason Grilli 1000100 0.00
Bryan Morris (W,1-0) 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 104-60, Tony Watson 10-9, Mark Melancon 10-8, Jason Grilli 17-10, Bryan Morris 13-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 4-3, Tony Watson 1-2, Mark Melancon 2-1, Jason Grilli 1-2, Bryan Morris 1-0
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 24, Tony Watson 3, Mark Melancon 4, Jason Grilli 4, Bryan Morris 3
Game Information
Attendance - 39833
Game Time - 3:16
Temperature - 54
Umpires - Home - John Hirschbeck, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - James Hoye, Third Base - John Tumpane