PITTSBURGH — Ke'Bryan Hayes fit just about everything he could into his major league debut. The third base prospect hit a tying homer for Pittsburgh in the eighth inning. He struck out with the winning run on second in the ninth. He executed a textbook slide to pull his team even in the 10th.
Chicago's Ian Happ, however, provided a lesson on closing.
Happ finished what he started, singling home Nico Hoerner in the 11th to lead the Cubs to an 8-7 win over the Pirates on Tuesday night. Happ, a Pittsburgh native who led off the game with a home run, finished with three hits as the NL Central leaders won for the third time in four games.
“There’s a lot of factors in that game, and for us to persevere — had some really nice pitching performances there late and in extras to keep things close — and just for us to be able to grind through that and get a win, that was huge," Happ said.
Hayes, the son of longtime major league infielder Charlie Hayes, collected his first career hit with an RBI double to left off Jon Lester in the sixth. The 23-year-old emerged from a 71-minute rain delay in the eighth, took the second pitch he saw and deposited it over the wall in centre to knot the game at 6.
“I mean, really I kind of like blacked out whenever I hit it,” said Hayes, who became the seventh player in Pirates history to homer in his first major league game. "Like I hit the ball and I was like, ‘Did I get that good enough?’ And then saw it go over and kind of blacked out for a second. So, it is special for me.”
Happ finally put the Pirates away when he sent a sharp single to centre off Kyle Crick (0-1) in the 11th. Jeremy Jeffress (3-1) held Pittsburgh scoreless in the bottom of the inning to help Chicago escape.
Happ and Kyle Schwarber each hit their 10th homer of the season for the Cubs. Kris Bryant added two hits in his return from a trip to the injured list due to a wrist issue.
“That’s a character win for me,” first-year manager David Ross said. "It tells you a lot about this group.”
The Cubs have been mostly stuck in neutral since their 13-3 start, but Bryant's return along with the arrival of reinforcements at the trade deadline gave Ross a chance to hit reset entering September.
Ross kept Happ in the leadoff spot and slotted Bryant — who spent time in the leadoff position earlier in the year — right behind Happ believing it lengthened the lineup. It only took two pitches to make it look like the right call.
Happ turned on Chad Kuhl's second offering and sent it to the concourse behind the seats in right- centre field. Happ's third leadoff homer of the season pushed his career home run total to 60, the most ever by a Cubs switch hitter.
The last-place Pirates called up Hayes — a three-time Gold Glove winner in the minors — with an eye toward the future. The former first-round pick looked right at home at PNC Park, showcasing the defensive flair that made him the 32nd overall selection in the 2015 draft.
Hayes drifted to his left and retired Bryant to end the third. He also threw out Bryant at home to end the top of the ninth, a curious decision considering there were two outs and the ball was a relatively routine grounder to third by Javy Baez. Hayes admitted he briefly lost track of the situation and went home just in case. Otherwise, it wasn't much different than any other game he's played in.
“After the first ground ball I got, the speed of the game, it didn’t feel anything crazy for me,” Hayes said.
COMING AND GOING
The Cubs were active at the trade deadline, acquiring veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin, utility player José Martinez and left-handed reliever Josh Osich.
Martinez served as the designated hitter Tuesday and went 0 for 3 while batting eighth. Osich allowed a run in the 10th.
To make room for the additions, Chicago sent outfielder Albert Almora Jr. to the club's alternate training site in South Bend, placed right-hander Tyler Chatwood on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain and designated reliever Casey Sadler for assignment.
Pirates: RHP Joe Musgrove (right triceps inflammation) will return from a stint to the disabled list and start on Wednesday.
Cubs: Kyle Hendricks (3-4, 4.09 ERA) is just 1-2 with a 6.61 ERA in three road starts this season.
Pirates: Musgrove (0-3, 6.75 ERA), Pittsburgh's opening-day starter, looks for his first win of the year.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Will Graves, The Associated Press