By Brian Sandalow
The Associated Press
CHICAGO - Jason Hammel threw seven strong innings, Anthony Rizzo had four hits, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-5 on Wednesday night despite allowing five solo home runs.
Signed to a one-year, $6 million contract over the offseason, Hammel (2-0) won his Cubs debut when he beat the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He got off to another good start in this one, retiring the first 12 batters until Pedro Alvarez's first homer of the game tied it to start the fifth. Hammel allowed three runs and three hits - all solo homers - while striking out six. Mike Olt and Junior Lake hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth against Wandy Rodriguez (0-2).
Rizzo's four hits tied a career high, and it was his career-best fourth straight multi-hit game.
Alvarez and Russell Martin homered twice for the Pirates, each getting their second in the ninth off Pedro Strop, and Travis Snider also went deep. It was Alvarez's second multihomer game of the season and ninth of his career, and it the eighth of Martin's career, but Pittsburgh only had one hit besides its five solo home runs.
Today: Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs, 2:20 p.m.
Pitching matchup: Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (1-0) vs. Cubs LHP Travis Wood (0-1)
TV: ROOT, WGN
Chicago's Emilio Bonifacio, who entered leading the majors with 17 hits and a .515 batting average, was 2 for 5 with two runs scored for an offense that has scored 21 runs in its last three games after getting eight in its first five.
Rodriguez, whom Hammel beat April 3, took his second loss against the Cubs. He went five innings, giving up four runs and nine hits, keeping the Pirates from clinching their third straight series win to start the season, something they haven't done since 1992.
Rodriguez fell behind early when Justin Ruggiano's first-inning double drove in Bonifacio, who had his sixth multihit game in eight.
Pittsburgh tied it in the fifth when Alvarez hit his third homer of the season. On a 1-2 count, Alvarez launched a drive into the bleachers in left field, aided by a wind that was steadily blowing out all night.
The Cubs took the lead in the bottom of the inning with two homers and three runs. Olt, whose only hit of the season had been a homer against Rodriguez in the teams' first meeting, took the first pitch he saw and hit it into the basket in left for a two-run homer that made it 3-1.
Lake then gave the Cubs their first back-to-back homers of the year when he ripped a 2-0 pitch out of the stadium and onto Waveland Ave.
The Cubs blew the game open in the sixth, scoring three more times to take a 7-1 lead. Their third run came when Lake was originally called out at first on a double-play grounder, but Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged the call by umpire Mark Carlson, getting it overturned and allowing Rizzo to score.
In the seventh, Snider and Martin hit their solo home runs off Hammel, who was replaced by Hector Rondon to start the eighth.
Game notes: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said C Chris Stewart (arthroscopic surgery on his right knee) is coming along as he rehabilitates. Hurdle said Stewart is working on getting at-bats and catching five-inning games as part of his version of spring training. ... Bonifacio's hot start has given Renteria an easy choice to lead off. "Typically, if you can have a leadoff guy that you can slot in, it's really big," Renteria said. ... Pirates LHP Jeff Locke (right oblique) went six innings and allowed two runs and five hits while striking out 10 and walking one in a rehab outing at Single-A Bradenton. ... Ruggiano's RBI double was his first hit of the season. He entered the game 0-for-11.