PITTSBURGH – Anthony Rizzo answered every question patiently, albeit with his hands on his hips.
Rizzo's body language Monday summed up the state of the Cubs after a maddening 1-0 loss to the Pirates on opening day that was decided when Neil Walker led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a home run off Carlos Villanueva.
The Cubs could take solace that they ran up the pitch count on Pirates ace Francisco Liriano so that he had to be pulled after six innings, while Jeff Samardzija pitched seven efficient innings.
But Liriano could have been lifted sooner, if the Cubs were able to capitalize on any of the seven at-bats they had with runners in scoring position against Liriano. They finished with no hits in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Their lack of clutch hitting, combined with the new replay system that cost them a potential rally, left them with a blend of frustration, optimism and bemusement.
"I had three opportunities to drive in a run,'' Rizzo said after striking out twice and hitting a feeble pop to third with a runner at second. "It's Game 1 of 162. You learn from it and move on."
First-year manager Rick Renteria provided a peek at his style by giving left-handed hitter Nate Schierholtz a start against Liriano despite Liriano's past dominance against left-handers, and Schierholtz rewarded Renteria with a leadoff single in the fifth.
Renteria also showed he believes in sacrifice bunts, with two of the Cubs' three attempts being executed, but none resulting in runs.
In the eighth, after Emilio Bonifacio led off with a double, Junior Lake was instructed to execute a sacrifice bunt. The rally dissolved when Bonifacio was caught in a rundown between third base and home that preceded Rizzo's popup.
"I don't mind putting us in a position to score," Renteria said. "I don't mind giving us those opportunities to see if I can get some guys behind [Lake] to drive him in. We can hit-and-run, or do any number of things. I could have squeezed, or done any number of things. I didn't. We just weren't able to drive it in."
Bonifacio had four of the Cubs' six hits, but he was ruled out on a replay reversal after originally being called safe at first on a pick-off attempt with one out in the 10th.
After he used three relievers, the situation called for Renteria to employ Villanueva – the Cubs' scheduled starter on Sunday – to start the bottom of the 10th.
After allowing the homer to Walker on a high 3-2 changeup, Villanueva scoffed at the suggestion he would be surprised to be summoned in the 10th.
"Why would I be in the bullpen?" said Villanueva, who likely will return to the bullpen permanently when Jake Arrieta returns from a stiff right shoulder. "If I'm in the bullpen, I expect to pitch – early, late, whenever. I was ready and felt fine. I just threw a high changeup, and [Walker] took me out.''