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updated: 4/3/2014 12:52 AM

Cubs battle deep into the night, only to lose

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson winds up during the first inning of Wednesday night's game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Jackson allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits in 5⅓ innings.

      Cubs starting pitcher Edwin Jackson winds up during the first inning of Wednesday night's game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Jackson allowed 2 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits in 5⅓ innings.
    Associated Press

 
 

Get used to it.

By now, you've probably figured out that you'll have to get used to the Cubs playing a lot of tight, low-scoring games this season, given their decent pitching and an offense that will struggle to score runs.

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You also can get used to new manager Rick Renteria trotting out all kinds of different lineups.

All such things were on display Wednesday night as the Cubs battled back and took the Pittsburgh Pirates deep into extra innings only to fall 4-3 in the 16th.

Carlos Villanueva (0-2) suffered the extra-inning loss for the second game in a row.

In his second inning of work Wednesday, Villanueva allowed a one-out single to Tony Sanchez, scoring Jose Tabata from third with the winning run. The game came in at five minutes short of six hours.

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer in the top of the 12th to give the Cubs a brief 3-2 lead. However, new closer Jose Versa suffered a blown save in the bottom of the inning as Starling Marte's RBI single tied the game up again.

It took awhile for the Cubs to score in the new season. They were shut out 1-0 Monday on Opening Day, and they did not put a run across until the eighth inning of Wednesday's game after the Pirates had taken a 2-0 lead.

It also took a bit for the Cubs to win a replay challenge after they came out on the short end Monday. One finally went their way in the eighth Wednesday, and it was key at the time.

Nate Schierholtz appeared to hit into an inning-ending double play in the top of the eighth. However, the toss from second baseman Neil Walker pulled shortstop Jordy Mercy off the second-base bag. The Cubs challenged the play and won, scoring a run.

In the ninth, Luis Valbuena's RBI single tied the game an set the stage for the long night.

Renteria went with a vastly different lineup from Monday, when the Pirates threw tough lefty Francisco Liriano at them.

On Wednesday, they faced right-hander Charlie Morton. So Renteria went with a left-handed-hitting lineup that put second baseman Darwin Barney on the bench. Switch hitter Emilio Bonifacio moved into second with Valbuena playing third in favor of Mike Olt.

Also in the lineup were Ryan Sweeney in center field and Ryan Kalish in left. All of this was expected, given the balance between right-handed and left-handed hitters on the team.

The Cubs also got a decent effort from starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, who worked 5⅓ innings, giving up 2 hits and 2 runs, 1 earned.

"I think it's just an opportunity to get guys in and use them in the different positions that they can possibly play, keep them comfortable," Renteria told reporters of the new look. "That doesn't mean Barney is not going to face righties, not at all.

"The more we can balance out their usage over the course of the season I think it puts us in a better position to come off the bench or any number of things."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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