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Cervelli exhibits heart, toughness in loss

MLB.com @Tom_Singer

CHICAGO -- The Pirates worked awful hard to earn Friday heartbreak. Nobody worked harder -- or more painfully -- for a stunning defeat than catcher Francisco Cervelli.

You know Cervelli -- he's the guy who seems to spend much of any game bent over behind the plate, grimacing from the impact of a foul tip here or an out-of-control bat swing there.

Full Game Coverage

CHICAGO -- The Pirates worked awful hard to earn Friday heartbreak. Nobody worked harder -- or more painfully -- for a stunning defeat than catcher Francisco Cervelli.

You know Cervelli -- he's the guy who seems to spend much of any game bent over behind the plate, grimacing from the impact of a foul tip here or an out-of-control bat swing there.

Full Game Coverage

It was no different early in what became a 12-inning, 11-10 loss to the Cubs. But later, Cervelli jolted the Bucs awake twice. His bases-clearing double in the sixth began the comeback from a 7-1 deficit, and his two-out single in the ninth capped the rebound from a 10-5 deficit.

Video: PIT@CHC: Cervelli rips a bases-clearing double in 6th

"He got banged up all day, no doubt about it," manager Clint Hurdle nodded. "Every time you turned around, something was going on with him. But he hung in there, and gave you some great at-bats."

On a team carrying only two catchers, he had to -- for all 263 pitches delivered by eight different pitchers.

Video: PIT@CHC: Cervelli hit on backswing, stays in the game

"Been doing it my whole career, so it's nothing new," Cervelli said of the physical resilience. "Got to stand up and keep going."

"Tough kid," Hurdle said.

The 29-year-old kid had his first four-RBI game in more than four years since May 8, 2011.

He figured it went for a good cause -- if not a good outcome. Cervelli was one of the main reflections of the team ethos he continually praised, even in the pall of a tough ending.

"The good thing is, we never give up. That's how we play baseball. It's going to be tough to beat us," Cervelli said. "Everyone here is hungry. These guys love to play baseball, and I came here with the same mentality.

"These guys are just amazing. It's fun to play with all these guys."

Outcome aside, Friday certainly was fun. When you're still down a run with two outs in the ninth, nobody on base and two strikes on your last batter and find yourself still playing in the 12th ... that's fun.

Josh Harrison doubled on that two-strike pitch from Cubs closer Hector Rondon and scored on Cervelli's single.

Cervelli took a very complicated approach to that at-bat, telling himself, "Hit a base hit. I was completely positive, made good contact and that's it."

Obviously a simple man, Cervelli was also asked to describe the game and came up with one word: "Crazy."

At that, he did better than Hurdle, who answered the same general question with a plea:

"You need to ask me some questions. It'd take me quite a while to describe the day's events. A lot went on."

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Francisco Cervelli