CHICAGO, May 22 (UPI) -- One of the most anticipated debuts in the history of the Chicago Cubs was equal to the hype.
Mark Prior lived up to his billing, allowing two runs and striking out 10 in six innings, as the Cubs rolled to their third win in four games, a 7-4 triumph over the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night.
Prior was the No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft after a stellar college career, and Chicago had been awaiting his debut ever since. After making eight dominant starts in the minors, he was promoted by the fifth-place Cubs to help revitalize the team and salvage the season.
Carrying the burden of being called a savior by some fans, Prior (1-0) scattered four hits and set a team record for strikeouts in a major league debut. He threw 65 of 103 pitches for strikes and walked two.
The 21-year-old righthander allowed a single to the first batter he faced but retired the next three. He put runners on first and second with none out in the second inning before surrendering a two-out RBI single to Pokey Reese.
Prior also served up a leadoff homer to Brian Giles in the sixth but finished the inning and left with a 4-2 lead.
The Pirates pulled within 5-4 against Chicago's suspect bullpen but Joe Girardi delivered a two-run double to highlight a three-run eighth inning. Antonio Alfonseca pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
Sammy Sosa belted a solo homer off Pittsburgh starter Dave Williams (2-5) in the third inning for Chicago, which won for just third time in 13 games.