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Pirates Vs. Cubs: Neil Walker Leads Team Effort In 6-3 Opening Day Win

Pittsburgh product Neil Walker hit a decisive grand slam in the top of the fifth inning as the Pirates won their Opening Day matchup against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The Pirates may not be a top major-league team, or even close to it, but they played like one today. Walker hit his grand slam and also doubled, and Andrew McCutchen also homered (a two-run shot) and doubled. But Kevin Correia pitched a quality start with a solid outing in which he wasn’t exactly dominant, but got more than enough out of his breaking ball and control to keep the Cubs in their cages. The bullpen behind him was excellent, with Garrett Olson, Jose Veras, Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan combining for five strikeouts in three scoreless innings, and Hanrhan touching 99 MPH on the radar gun.

The Pirates also drew seven walks against Cubs pitchers, as starter Ryan Dempster labored through 6.2 innings. And Ryan Doumit played a surprisingly good game behind the plate, blocking several pitches and throwing out a runner at second. The only drawback was that the Pirates dropped two infield popups, but that was surely partly due to all the wind at Wrigley.

This was an excellent game for the Pirates overall, and hopefully it’ll give them something to build on over the next couple of weeks.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.