Final in 10

Series: Game 1 of 3

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 3/31)

Game 1: Monday, March 31
Chi Cubs0Final
in 10
Game 2: Wednesday, April 2
Chi Cubs3Final
in 16
Game 3: Thursday, April 3
Chi Cubs3Final

Cubs 0

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Pirates 1

(1-0, 1-0 home)

    Coverage:  ESPN/WatchESPN

    1:00 PM ET, March 31, 2014

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

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    PIT 0000000001 1 6 0

    W: B. Morris (1-0)

    L: C. Villanueva (0-1)

    Walker's homer lifts Pirates over Cubs 1-0

    Associated Press

    PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker understands not everybody is going to be a fan of Major League Baseball's expanded replay system, which threatens to slow down a sport that already struggles to be played with any sort of urgency.

    Funny, there weren't many critics to be found on Monday at PNC Park.

    Walker homered off Carlos Villanueva leading off the 10th inning, and the Pirates benefited from an overturned to call to beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0.

    The Pittsburgh native turned on a Villanueva changeup and sent it sailing over the Clemente Wall in right field for the first walk-off of his career and the first by the Pirates on opening day since Bob Bailey homered off San Francisco's Juan Marichal in a 1-0, 10-inning victory in 1965.

    "This one feels pretty special," Walker said. "This is a special day for this team, this organization. We've come a long way."

    So has the game.

    After spending decades fighting the advances of technology, Major League Baseball has embraced the concept. Many calls can be challenged this season under an expanded system, and both teams wasted little time putting umpires to work.

    The Cubs made history by initiating the first review under the new guidelines. Chicago manager Rick Renteria challenged a double-play call in the top of the fifth following a demonstrative "safe" call by Jeff Samardzija following a poorly executed sacrifice bunt attempt. First base umpire Bob Davidson's decision was confirmed on replay.

    "It was a combination of Samardzjia's reaction and what we were looking at," Renteria said. "We're still trying to figure out what clear and compelling evidence is. It's a work in progress."

    Chicago's luck with replay didn't get any better later.

    A safe call on a pickoff attempt by Bryan Morris (1-0) with one out in the top of the 10th was reversed after Pirates manager Clint Hurdle requested a replay, sending Chicago's Emilio Bonifacio back to the dugout after a delay of 2 1/2 minutes.

    "Most of the time on pickoffs, it's got to be very noticeable for the umpire," Morris said. "Those bang-bang plays are always going to go to the runner. I guess that's why it's good to have replay."

    The largest regular season crowd in PNC Park's 14-season history (39,833) roared its approval. The din only grew louder when Walker's drive to right field finished halfway up the seats. That capped a giddy day for a team freed from two decades of losing after a breakout 2013 in which it won 94 games and made the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

    Former Pittsburgh star Barry Bonds presented centerfielder Andrew McCutchen with the NL MVP award that McCutchen earned last year. Bonds received mixed reviews, though the vitriol that accompanied his late career visits to Pittsburgh while playing for San Francisco was noticeably absent.

    Bonifacio went 4 for 5 for Chicago, but the Cubs were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and wasted a fine start by Samardzija, who scattered five hits over seven innings.

    "I was happy with the way I kept the ball down in the strike zone," Samardzija said. "It helped to get the double plays because they made the overall outing look a little better than it really was."

    Travis Ishikawa had two of the six hits by Pittsburgh.

    Starter Francisco Liriano tied a team record shared by three other pitchers for most strikeouts on opening day by fanning 10 in six innings. While he struggled with his command -- needing 104 pitches to get 18 outs -- he was sharp when he needed to be and Pittsburgh's bullpen did the rest.

    Game notes

    Pirates C Chris Stewart took batting practice and says he is coming along ahead of schedule in his rehab from knee surgery. Stewart believes he can beat the timetable of late April for his return. ... Chicago OF Brian Bogusevic was unavailable because of ankle soreness. He is expected to be ready to play Wednesday. ... The teams are off Tuesday. Chicago's Edwin Jackson faces Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton on Wednesday night.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumPNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
    Attendance39,833 (103.8% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time3:16
    Weather54 degrees, sunny
    Wind2 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - John Hirschbeck, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - James Hoye, Third Base - John Tumpane

    Research Notes

    From Elias: Neil Walker hit a walk-off HR in the 10th inning of a 1-0 win over the Cubs on Opening Day. FROM ELIAS: It's the 2nd time in MLB history a player hit a walk-off HR in a 1-0 win on Opening Day, and the other was also a Pirate. On April 12, 1965, Bob Bailey hit a walk-off HR in the 10th inning off Juan Marichal in a 1-0 Pirates win over the Giants.
    Stephen Strasburg had 10 strikeouts Monday, tying him with Steve Rogers in 1982 for the most strikeouts in the team's first game of a season in Nationals/Expos history. Francisco Liriano also struck out 10 batters Monday, joining Strasburg as the 5th and 6th pitchers since 2010 to have 10 strikeouts in his team's first game of a season.
    Anthony Rizzo: 5th Cubs player to go hitless with 3 or more K in the team's 1st game of the year in the last 35 seasons. It also happened last season with Brent Lillibridge as he also went hitless with 3 K against the Pirates.
    The last 1-0, extra-inning win on Opening Day came on March 31, 1998, when the Mets beat the Phillies, 1-0, in 14 innings.
    The Pirates have won six Opening Day games in their history by a score of 1-0. Four of them have come against the Cubs (1947, 1949, 1978, and now 2014). They also beat the Giants in 1965 and the Cardinals in 1902 by that score.
    The attendance in PNC Park for Opening Day on Monday was 39,833. It's the largest regular-season crowd in stadium history (opened 2001). The Pirates did cram in 40,487 for last year's Wild Card game.
    The Pirates are just the third team in the last 100 years to have 10-K games from their Opening Day starter in back-to-back years (A.J. Burnett had 10 last year), and the first where two different pitchers did it. The other two teams are the 2000-01 Diamondbacks (Randy Johnson) and the Washington Senators of 1916-17 (Walter Johnson). Other than Liriano and Burnett, the only Pirates with double-digit strikeouts on Opening Day were John Candelaria in 1983 and Bob Veale in 1965.

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