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May 27—The Chicago Cubs haven’t needed much help while defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first two games of their series at PNC Park.

The Pirates offered up some, anyway, Thursday afternoon in one of the strangest plays you might see on a major-league diamond. The result was a 5-3 Cubs victory and the Pirates’ sixth loss in a row.

With two outs in the third inning and the Cubs’ Willson Contreras on second base, Javier Baez hit a groundball to third base. Third out, right?


Erik Gonzalez’s throw pulled first baseman Will Craig off the bag, giving the quick-thinking Baez an idea. He turned around and ran back toward home plate. Craig could have merely touched the base, but he jogged after Baez while Contreras was streaking toward home.

Contreras, who earlier had stolen second, slid home safely just ahead of Craig’s throw. When catcher Michael Perez tried to throw out Baez at first, second baseman Adam Frazier was late covering and the baseball went into right field. A good throw and putout would have negated Contreras’ run.

It was ruled a fielder’s choice and an error on Perez, with Baez advancing to second.

The play had the Cubs laughing in the dugout.

“Javy disappears on the base paths more than anybody I’ve seen. He just creates havoc,” Cubs manage David Ross said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. Just Javy. El Mago. That’s what it is. He just makes crazy things happen. He runs in moments and guys forget how to play baseball sometimes.”

The baseball world was certainly reacting as well.

Former sportscaster Keith Olbermann shared the Pirates’ radio call.

And retired Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Vin Scully kept it short and sweet:

But the Cubs weren’t finished giving the Pirates a headache. Baez scored on Ian Happ’s bloop single. Craig added to his misery by muffing David Bote’s groundball for the Pirates’ second error of the inning.

The result was Anderson throwing to three more batters than he would have under normal — non-Little League — circumstances, and the Cubs had two runs that never should have scored in a two-run victory.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at or via Twitter .