PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jordan Wicks gave up two hits and struck out nine over five innings in his major league debut, and the Chicago Cubs held on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-6 on Saturday night.
Wicks (1-0), a 23-year-old left-hander selected No. 21 overall in the 2021 MLB Amateur Draft, allowed one run and walked one.
“I think, in my dreams, I imagined that,” Wicks said. “I thought it was unbelievable. Just having the guys welcome me so much today made it a lot easier, having them to lean on.”
Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the first and immediately hit a fastball from Wicks 384 feet to left for his 10th home run. Bryan Reynolds then singled to center before Andrew McCutchen walked. Wicks retired the following 15 batters, striking out the first five.
“Man, what a fun night for (Wicks) once he settled in,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Home run, rocket up the middle and then it felt like the game was over, right? He just pounded the zone, found the rhythm. He can just pitch. It just stands out.”
Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki each drove in three runs for Chicago, which has won two of three to start the four-game series and remained four games behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central.
“The focus is on winning,” Wicks said. “We don’t have time to come up here and try to ease our way into it and get settled it, try to be cute. It’s about putting our team in the best position to win ballgames. I love that, personally.”
Adbert Alzolay came in with two outs in the ninth to strike out Reynolds for his 21st save.
After Colin Selby struck out three in two perfect innings, Pirates reliever Osvaldo Bido (2-5) started the third by walking in two runs, putting the Cubs ahead 2-1. Mike Tauchman then scored on Cody Bellinger’s grounder.
Happ made it 5-1 in the fifth with a two-run double past a diving Connor Joe at first base before coming around on Bellinger’s bloop single. Suzuki followed with an RBI triple to left-center, ending Bido’s outing. Jeimer Candelario capped the five-run inning, extending the lead to 8-1 with a single to left.
“Four walks in an inning, five total,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Bido. “He just looked like he was over-rotating and kind of rushing the ball against his arm side. He just didn’t have the command we’ve seen him have previously.”
Pittsburgh answered with five in the seventh. Joe scored on Liover Peguero’s sacrifice fly before Alika Williams and Hayes each had an RBI single with two outs. Reynolds drove in two with a double into the corner in right.
“They continued to play,” Shelton said. “We had to play well defensively. Alika played about as well as you can play at short, made a lot of good plays. But, yeah, they kept going, they fighting but we just came up short.”
Suzuki pushed Chicago’s lead out to 10-6 with his own two-run double in the ninth.
SKENES STRUGGLES IN DOUBLE-A DEBUT
Pirates pitching prospect Paul Skenes, drafted first overall in 2023, was pulled just two outs into his Double-A debut with Altoona. The 21-year-old right-hander allowed four runs to Akron on three hits and two walks in the first inning, striking out two on 33 pitches (16 strikes) with his fastball reaching 100 mph twice.
Cubs RHP Michael Fulmer was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Aug. 25, with a right forearm strain. Fulmer pitched Thursday, striking out one and walking one in the eighth inning of Chicago’s 5-4 series-opening win.