In the longest baseball game ever played in Pittsburgh (five hours and 55 minutes), the Pirates walked off to a 4-3 victory in 16 innings.
Instant replay was a major story line tonight, costing the Pirates a pivotal run in the eighth, putting the Cubs in a position to tie the game with a run in the ninth.
With the Bucs leading 2-0 in the eighth, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out. Nate Schierholtz then hit into what appeared to be an inning ending double play. However, the Cubs challenged that Mercer was not touching the bag on the force at second. The play was ultimately reversed and Emilio Bonifacio, who crossed the plate on the play, was awarded with a run scored. Mark Melancon got out of the inning without any further damage when Ryan Sweeney grounded out.
There was a lot of confusion over the reversal of the double play because neighborhood plays are not reviewable. However, the throw was ruled errant, therefore negating the neighborhood play and making the play reviewable.
Hurdle explained the challenge: "Their manager didn't challenge the neighborhood play. Their manager challenged the fact that the throw pulled the player off of the bag. Two completely different things."
The Cubs tied the game on Luis Valbuena's single off Jason Grilli in the ninth, and the game headed to extra innings.
In the 12th, Anthony Rizzo hit a solo home run to put the Cubs up 3-2. But the Pirates fought back against Jose Veras in the bottom half. With two outs and runners on first and third, Starling Marte went to a full count before lining a single into left to tie the game.
The Pirates threatened to win the game in the 13th, loading the bases with no outs. But Clint Barmes hit into an extremely rare 7-2-3 double play, as the Cubs had positioned their left fielder, Junior Lake, in the infield. (The only other reference I found for a 7-2-3 double play is here, from the Nippon League).
Finally, in the 16th, the Pirates walked off with a victory for the second time in as many games this season, as Tony Sanchez drove home Jose Tabata from third.
What should not to be lost in tonight's marathon was Charlie Morton fine start. He provided the Pirates with their second solid start of season, going six innings without allowing a run. He attacked the lower half of the strike zone, inducing ground balls throughout the evening. Two of the grounders resulted in singles, two led to errors, two were turned into double plays and two routine infield assists. Morton also struck out six, and left the game having posted a game score of 69.
The Bucs struck first in the second. With one out, Neil Walker singled to left. Travis Ishikawa followed with an excellent plate appearance, drawing a walk after falling behind in the count 0-and-2. Jordy Mercer then hit a ground ball through the hole in the left side of the Cubs' infield, scoring Walker. After Morton struck out, the inning ended when Mercer was picked off first by catcher Welington Castillo.
Mercer's pickoff wasn't a complete loss, however. We did learn what appears to be the signal that Pirates' players will use to indicate to the bench that a play should be challenged. After the umpire called him out on a close play, Mercer jumped up and motioned to the Pirates bench, holding his left hand flat, while making a chopping motion with his right hand. After Mercer's signal, Hurdle came immediately out of the dugout to talk to the first base umpire while, presumably, someone watching a monitor reviewed the play. Ultimately the Pirates did not challenge the call.
The Pirates scored another run in the sixth inning when a Starlin Castro error scored Marte from second.
The Pirates' bullpen took over in the seventh. Tony Watson pitched an impressive inning, striking out three Cubs. In the eighth, Mark Melancon got in a world of trouble, as the Cubs loaded the bases with one out, but only ended up scoring one run.
Afterwards, Clint Hurdle expressed surprise when informed of the record-setting length of the game: "We haven't played a longer game than that? Check another thing off the list, I guess."