Alvarez impresses with defense


Runners on second and third, two outs, a batter with a lot of speed hits and slow roller up the third base line. Pedro Alvarez did exactly the right thing. He made a running, bare-handed grab and fired — hard — to the plate to nail the runner from third, Paul Maholm. “It’s an instinctive play,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s a big-league play. I’m sure the last thing on Paul’s mind was that the play would be coming home.”

Catcher Rod Barajas had seen that kind of play develop a few times over his 14 seasons in the majors. He was impressed by Alvarez’s athleticism and his decision-making. “I was thinking the same thing (as what Alvarez did) but I wasn’t sure at first if he was going to head in that direction. That’s just understanding the game and thinking ahead. It’s something you can’t teach — baseball instincts.”

»»» Mea culpa: In my story today about last night’s game, I mistakenly ID’d the Pirates RF as Jose Tabata. It was Josh Harrison.

»»» Ouch! Before Matt Hague’s moment of glory last night, the Pirates’ previous walk-off win via a hit by pitch came April 15, 1997, when Tony Womack was struck  in the face by Padres LHP Sterling Hitchcock. Last night’s game also was the first time the Cubs lost on a walkoff HBP since May 27, 2007, when Carlos Marmol plunked the Dodgers’ Juan Pierre.

Game 47: Cubs @ Pirates,1:35 p.m. ET

Cubs (15-31): 1. David DeJesus rf, 2. Starlin Castro ss, 3. Joe Mather 3b, 4. Alfonso Soriano lf, 5. Jeff Baker 1b, 6. Reed Johnson cf, 7. Darwin Barney 2b, 8. Koyie Hill c, 9. Matt Garza rhp (2-2, 3.72)

Pirates (22-24): 1. Jose Tabata lf, 2. Josh Harrison ss, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Garrett Jones rf, 7. Matt Hague 1b, 8. Michael McKenry c, 9. Erik Bedard (2-5, 3.52)