CHICAGO -- It ended up not mattering. But you could forgive the Cubs a few anxious moments after Gold Glove first baseman Anthony Rizzo missed not one but two opportunities for outs in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's 7-6 walk-off win in 10 innings against the Pirates.
Rizzo nearly made two catches that could've helped preserve what was a 6-4 lead at the time. Instead, the Pirates rallied to force extra innings before Chicago pulled it out in the 10th. Neither miss was Rizzo's fault, and fortunately they merely resulted in a delayed victory.
The first was the really uncomfortable one. With one out and a runner on first, Francisco Cervelli popped up a 2-2 fastball in foul territory between home and first base near the dugout. Rizzo leaned over the wall and behind the protective netting to make the play, but a fan also reached for it and prevented the first baseman from retiring Cervelli for the second out.
So close was Rizzo to making the play that the umpire initially signaled for an out, until he realized the fan had intercepted the ball. It never reached Rizzo's glove.
"I thought I caught it," Rizzo said. "It was one of those weird plays."
Instead, Cervelli ripped a double off the wall in right-center field that gave the Pirates runners on second and third. Both runs scored on a two-out double from Starling Marte, a hit that deflected off the top of a jumping Rizzo's glove before shooting down the right-field line.
The play on Cervelli had the potential to be a reincarnation of the infamous Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 National League Championship Series. However, the Cubs escaped further trouble when Jaime Garcia entered and promptly got Josh Bell to ground out and end the threat. Still, Marte's double tied the game at 6 and led to extra innings.
All fears of the fan-intercepted foul ball having season-altering consequences were put to rest when the Cubs won in the 10th on Albert Almora Jr.'s single, helping Chicago maintain its half-game NL Central lead.
"It was a big win for us today," Rizzo said. "That's all I'm worried about is us getting that win and coming back."