By MATT CARLSON | Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Rookie Frank Schwindel hustled hard and sprawled for an RBI single that capped a three-run rally with two outs in the ninth inning, lifting the Chicago Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-6 Saturday for their fifth straight win.
Schwindel had three hits, including a solo home run that sailed into Wrigley Field's left-field video board. He has five homers in six games and 10 this season.
Alfonso Rivas singled home a run in the ninth that drew the Cubs within 6-5 and Rafael Ortega's third hit of the game tied it when right fielder Ben Gamel couldn't make a diving catch.
With runners on second and third, Schwindel hit a grounder that shortstop Kevin Newman gloved in the hole. Newman pivoted and made a midair throw to first that was wide, and Colin Moran came off the base to catch it.
Schwindel made a dive into the bag and narrowly avoided the tag. The play withstood a video review, handing the Pirates their fifth straight loss.
"What a blast," said bench coach Andy Green, who is directing the Cubs while manager David Ross is out after a positive COVID-19 test. "That was crazy close. He was fired up and confident that he didn't get tagged."
"He's done everything you can possible hope a baseball play could do. Now we just want to see it repeat for a long time," he said.
Schwindel might have been extra pumped after the crowd started chanting his name at the start of his game-ending at-bat.
After all, the 6-foot-1, 220-pound, 29-year-old — nicknamed "Frank the Tank" — has taken over at first base for Anthony Rizzo, shipped at the July 30 trade deadline to the Yankees as the rebuilding Cubs unloaded big-name stars.
"That was awesome," Schwindel said. "That was the loudest I've heard it here. That was as cool an experience as I've ever had."
Schwindel says he's just doing his best and not worrying about long-term plans.
"That's the last thing that's crossing my mind," Schwindel said. "I'm just showing up every day. I'm playing first base for the Chicago Cubs and you can't beat it."
"I'm just having as much fun as I can and I'm trying to put some good at-bats together," he said.
Chris Stratton (5-1) entered in the eighth with a 6-4 lead and was trying for a two-inning save, but took the loss.
Scott Effross (1-0) pitched the ninth for the win.
Yoshi Tsutsugo's towering, solo shot hit the right-field video board in the Pirates first. Wilmer Difo had two RBIs in a five-run fifth, but Pittsburgh couldn't hold on.
"From our angle, it looked he (Moran) tagged him, but that's not how it it went," manager Derek Shelton said. "I've only see what's on the board."
"We've played well, and we've come back from deficits, and we've lost some games because we didn't catch the ball, and we need to catch the ball," he said.
Pirates starter JT Brubaker abruptly exited due to right shoulder discomfort with two runners on, none out and a full count on Patrick Wisdom in the fourth. Assistant trainer Tony Leo sprinted to the mound, followed by Shelton.
Brubaker was making first start since Aug. 24 when he suffered a bruised right thumb while batting.
Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks was roughed up for the second straight start, allowing six runs on five hits while walking three and hitting two batters in 4 1/3 innings.
CUBS COVID UPDATE
A day after Ross and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer tested positive for COVID-19, Green said no additional coaches or players had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Green is running the team while Ross is away for up to 10 days. Green said Ross, who has been vaccinated, continues to be asymptomatic and is engaged in discussions and making lineups until game time.
"The only symptom he has right now is he can't overcome his midnight snacking," said Green, who managed the Padres for four seasons. "He's bored out of his mind."
Hendricks recorded the 1,000th strikeout of his career when he fanned Jacob Stallings in the first.
Pirates: Duane Underwood Jr., Pittsburgh's second reliever, also left with right shoulder discomfort after tossing the fifth. Shelton expects to have an update on him and Brubaker on Sunday. … 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes (right hand bruise) has started taking batting practice along with throwing and fielding grounders. … RHP Kyle Keller was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Brubaker.
Cubs: C Willson Contreras was activated from the injured list and started behind the plate after being sidelined since Aug. 11 with a right knee sprain. To make roster room, the Cubs placed rookie RHP Keegan Thompson on the IL retroactive to Sept. 3 with right shoulder inflammation. Thompson had a 17.18 ERA in his last two starts and left Thursday's game after 1 2/3 innings. … INF David Bote (sprained right ankle) ran the bases again on Saturday.
Pirates RHP Wil Crowe (3-7, 5.46) faces Cubs RHP Zach Davies (6-10, 4.91) on Sunday.