PITTSBURGH - Rob Mackowiak became a father for the first time, hit a game-winning grand slam and tied another game with a two-run homer.
Whew! What a day!
“It’s just hard to imagine ever having a better day than this,” Mackowiak said.
Hours after his wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their first son, Mackowiak hit his first career grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth Friday to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 9-5 win over the Chicago Cubs in the first game of a doubleheader.
In the nightcap, he hit a two-run homer to tie it in the ninth inning before Craig Wilson’s game-winning home run in the 10th gave the Pirates a 5-4 victory and doubleheader sweep.
He hit the first pitch he saw from LaTroy Hawkins over the right-center field wall for his 10th homer.
“Obviously, having your first child is a big event in itself, then to come back at night and hit a game-winning and a game-tying home run ... well, it’s just hard to describe.”
Wilson’s homer off Francis Beltran, his 11th of the season, gave the Pirates their first doubleheader sweep since June 18, 2003, against Montreal.
“I’m not thinking home run there, but I just happened to hit it hard enough to get it out of the park,” Wilson said. “But what I did pales in comparison to what Mackowiak did.
“It was great to see a good friend have his first kid and hit two huge home runs. I guess you could say he had a pretty good day, huh?”
Mike Gonzalez (2-0) pitched a perfect 10th inning for the Pirates, who are 22-22 — the latest in a season that they’ve been at .500 since Sept. 1, 1999.
Beltran (1-1) threw just one pitch, and took the loss. He had allowed only one run over his previous 9 1-3 innings.
Corey Patterson hit a two-run homer and Jose Macias drove in two runs in the nightcap for the Cubs, who have lost four straight and six of their last eight.
“In the latter part of games, we have to find a way to win,” Patterson said. “They did a good job. But somehow, some way, we have to focus a little more at crucial times in the game.”
Mackowiak certainly did that in both games, beginning with his first dramatic homer off reliever Joe Borowski on a 2-1 pitch.
Mackowiak’s wife, Jennifer, gave birth to their son, Garrett Matthew, just after 11 a.m. Friday, and Mackowiak didn’t arrive at the ballpark until about 4 p.m. for a 5:05 start.
“You never expect to do this,” Mackowiak said. “I mean, look at the pitchers the Cubs had — Borowski and Hawkins. They’re two of the best in the league. I don’t know how you ever explain what I did.”
Said Chicago manager Dusty Baker: “It breaks your heart. The same guy wins it and then ties it up in the second game. I guess it was just his day. It was unbelievable.”
Patterson’s sixth homer of the season also scored Derrek Lee, who walked to lead off the fourth inning of the nightcap against starter Oliver Perez.
David Kelton doubled and scored on Macias’ groundout in the third, and Macias added an RBI single in the ninth for the Cubs.
But the Pirates battled back.
“This is certainly one of the best days I’ve had in my four years as a manager,” Pittsburgh’s Lloyd McClendon said. “I really like this team and the way it’s playing. They show an awful lot of heart.”
Chicago starter Glendon Rusch allowed six hits in his third start of the season, struck out four and walked two in 6 2-3 innings of the nightcap. He was lifted after walking Mackowiak and Jason Kendall with two outs in the seventh.
Kyle Farnsworth relieved Rusch and allowed an infield single to Jack Wilson, loading the bases, before getting Jason Bay to fly out.
Perez allowed seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, striking out seven and walking four.
Daryle Ward’s RBI single in the sixth inning scored Craig Wilson, who had doubled with two outs, to cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2.
In the first game, Matt Clement became the 21st pitcher in major league history to hit three batters in one inning, and the first Chicago pitcher to do so since Walter Thornton on May 18, 1898.
Michael Barrett’s pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh gave Chicago a 5-4 lead, but the usually reliable Borowski blew his first save.
In the ninth, Borowski (2-3) allowed a leadoff triple to Tike Redman, and Abraham Nunez singled to right to tie it.
Kendall followed with a single off the glove of shortstop Rey Ordonez, and after Jack Wilson flied out to center, Borowski intentionally walked Ward to load the bases. Craig Wilson struck out, but Mackowiak won it for the Pirates with his big blast.
It was the first blown save for Borowski in nine chances, and ended his franchise record for consecutive saves at 22, dating to Aug. 5, 2003.
“This team has bounced back from tough losses,” Baker said. “So, it can bounce back from two tough losses, too.”
Salomon Torres (3-1) pitched the ninth and picked up the win.
Barrett, hitting for Todd Hollandsworth, hit a 1-2 pitch from reliever Mike Johnston over the wall in left-center field to erase a 4-1 deficit. It was Barrett’s eighth homer of the season and first career grand slam. It was the Cubs’ first pinch-hit grand slam since Julio Zuleta had one on June 5, 2001, against St. Louis.
The Pirates sent nine to the plate and took a 4-1 lead in the fifth when Clement, who allowed only one hit through the first four innings, tied a major league record by hitting three batters.
Notes: The doubleheader began an eight-game homestand for the Pirates. ... After this four-game series, the Cubs will return home for a 10-game homestand against Houston, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, their longest of the season.
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