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Cubs Drop Season Opener 6-3

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Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster (Photo Credit: Getty Images, By: Gregory Shamus)

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The Chicago Cubs dropped their season opener to the Pittsburgh Pirates by a score of 6-3, on Friday.

After leading 2-0 in the top of the fifth, starter Ryan Dempster gave up a hit, walked two batters and then gave up a grand slam.

That would be all the scoring the Pirates would need. However, two innings later the Pirates would add another home run, this time a two-run shot.

The Cubs showed signs of life, scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh, but would never come closer than three runs.

Starter Ryan Dempster went 6.2 innings and gave up six earned runs, four walks and recorded seven strike outs. James Russell, Jeff Samardzija and John Grabow combined for 2.1 scoreless innings in relief.

Starlin Castro led the way offensively for Cubs, going 3-5 with two runs scored. Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Pena added a RBI.

Neil Walker hit a grand slam, Andrew McCutchen also homered and Kevin Correia pitched into the seventh inning Friday as the Pittsburgh Pirates started the season under new manager Clint Hurdle with a 6-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The Pirates, who lost a majors-worst 105 times last year, won their fifth straight season opener.

Walker’s grand slam came off Ryan Dempster (0-1) on a 3-2 pitch, a long drive to right that ended up on Sheffield Avenue and gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead in the fifth.

Correia (1-0) allowed seven hits and two earned runs. He gave up an unearned run in the first and another run on Carlos Pena‘s bases-loaded grounder in the third. He left after an infield popup by Darwin Barney dropped for a single starting the bottom of the seventh.

Chicago’s loss, before a Wrigley Field crowd of 41,358 on a rainy day, spoiled Mike Quade’s first game as the Cubs’ full-time manager. He held the post on an interim basis for the final 37 games a year ago.

With the Pirates trailing 2-0, Ryan Doumit began the fifth with a single and Dempster walked two around Correia’s sacrifice, bringing up Walker.

In the seventh, Walker doubled to right-center and McCutchen – who was 23 for 52 against the Cubs last season when the Pirates won 10 of 15 meetings with Chicago – followed with a homer just over the wall in left-center.

The Cubs cut it to 6-3 when Kosuke Fukudome hit an RBI single to score Barney, who’d reached when his pop fell between the plate and the mound. Aramis Ramirez flied out with two runners on.

Joel Hanrahan pitched the ninth for the Pirates, working around a walk and infield hit for the save.

Quade went incognito en route to Wrigley Field on Friday, wearing a hat and jacket while riding the elevated train from downtown that he caught around 8 a.m. He said he sat quietly in the back of the car with his head down so there was no chance of being recognized.

During the season, he’ll live within walking distance of the park. And after games like Friday when the Cubs lost despite getting 11 hits, he’ll need the jaunt to clear his thoughts.

With the game starting in a light rain on a 41-degree day, the Cubs got an unearned run in the first, thanks to some shaky fielding from Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez. He couldn’t come up with a hard grounder from Starlin Castro that was ruled an infield single. He then caught Marlon Byrd‘s bouncer and threw the ball over first baseman Lyle Overbay‘s head as Castro raced home, sliding headfirst.

Pena got his first RBI with the Cubs in the third. After three singles, he hit a grounder that made it 2-0. Pena, signed as a free agent after spending the last four years in Tampa, also flashed his glove, making a couple of nice scoops of low throws on a wet infield.

NOTES: Both teams sported a remembrance of a well-known member of the organization who passed away since last season. The Cubs wore a No. 10 for former third baseman and popular broadcaster Ron Santo. The Pirates had a patch for Chuck Tanner, who managed the Bucs for nine years and led them to a World Series title in 1979. … The Cubs held a moment of silence for Santo and for the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. … Santo’s son and daughter led the singing during the seventh inning stretch. … Actor/Director Robert Redford threw out the first pitch and Kerry Wood, returning to the Cubs after playing in the AL for two years, caught it. A movie Redford directed, “The Conspirator,” was produced by the American Film Co., which was founded by Joe Ricketts. Ricketts is the father of Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts. … The last time Pittsburgh won five straight season openers was from 1935-40 when the Pirates captured six in a row. … The fans cheered when the sun made an appearance in the bottom of the ninth.

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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