PITTSBURGH — Tony Watson had a save that was reminiscent of bygone days.
The Pirates’ left-hander inherited a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning and got the final six outs Wednesday night for his first save of the season and fifth of his five-year career as Pittsburgh held off the Chicago Cubs 4-3.
Gregory Polanco hit his first home run of the season and Vance Worley (2-1) got through 5 2-3 shaky innings for his second straight win.
Multi-inning saves are rare with today’s specialized bullpens. However, the Pirates needed Watson to pitch two innings because closer Mark Melancon was not available after throwing 25 pitches in a loss the previous night.
“It’s just part of the gig,” Watson said. “Everyone knew we had to step it up a little bit more tonight. That’s what a bullpen does, though. The guys pick each other up.”
“It wasn’t the plan to use Tony that long but it was a gritty performance on his part,” Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle said.
Polanco’s leadoff home run in the bottom of the fifth inning off Jason Hammel increased the Pirates’ lead to 4-1. It came after Polanco made a fine running catch of a fly ball hit by rookie star Kris Bryant with the bases loaded to end the top of the inning.
Polanco also doubled as he finished with two hits.
The Pirates needed the three-run cushion as the Cubs loaded the bases with none out in the eighth against Jared Hughes, who gave up a run on three hits and a walk.
Watson relieved and allowed an inherited runner to score on a fielder’s choice grounder by Chris Coghlan before holding the 4-3 lead by getting Jonathan Herrera to foul out and rookie Addison Russell to line out.
“They got us,” Chicago Manager Joe Maddon said. “We just couldn’t get a hit when we needed to. If we keep playing with that kind of intensity and effort on a nightly basis we’re going to win a lot of games this year.”
Worley allowed an unearned run on six hits and five walks. He also struck five in a 106-pitch outing.
“It wasn’t always easy and my pitches weren’t always going where I wanted but I kept the runs off the board,” Worley said.
Hammel (1-1) gave up four runs — three earned — and six hits in five innings with five walks and no strikeouts.
Anthony Rizzo had two of the Cubs’ 10 hits. Russell, who debuted Tuesday, had his first major league hit with a single off Worley in the second inning.
Francisco Cervelli hit an RBI double and Jung Ho Kang followed with a sacrifice fly in the second inning to open the scoring for the Pirates and Pedro Alvarez made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly in the third.
Bryant doubled in the fourth inning and scored the Cubs’ first run on Starlin Castro’s grounder.
• TRAINER’S ROOM
Cubs: LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (left groin strain) made his first rehab start for Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday, allowing two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings with four walks and five strikeouts against New Orleans. ... RHP Justin Grimm (right forearm inflammation) threw his second bullpen session at the extended spring training camp in Mesa, Ariz.
Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer (bruised chest) missed his third straight game and is considered day-to-day. ... RHP Charlie Morton (right hip surgery) will make his second extended spring training start Thursday at Bradenton, Fla.
• OUTFIELDERS EXIT
Cubs CF Dexter Fowler left the game after the second inning because of tightness in his groin. . In the fifth inning, Pirates LF Starling Marte exited with a soft tissue contusion in his right hand. He was hit by a pitch in the third inning from Hammel.