Hey, nice sunny day in Chicago, tho a bit on the chilly side as opposed to the Pittsburgh gray. It looked like a pitcher's day; the wing was blowing in at 10 MPH.
Jose Tabata lined a single to left out of the gate and stole second against veteran lefty Doug Davis. After an out, McCutch dribbled a ball into left to put runners on the corners. Walker hit a one hopper to third; JT broke on contact and was out at home with a half-slide, half-forearm splatter at the dish. He caught his ankle in the clay and limped off, but some ice, tape and grit kept him in the game. Matt Diaz hit a weak roller to second, and the Bucs running-scoring woes continued.
The Cubs threatened when Steve Pearce had a grounder pop out of his mitt on the exchange and A-Ram walked with two outs. Kevin Correia coaxed a Carlos Pena grounder, and so there was smoke but no fire in the first all the way around.
Chicago figured out a way to get Pittsburgh on the board in the second; play some little league defense. Chris Snyder walked and Lyle Overbay followed with a knock into right to put runners on the corners with no outs. Ronny Cedeno laid down a safety squeeze/sac; it went right back to the mound, where Davis dropped it to load the bases.
Correia hit a bouncer to Ramirez; he looked home and the ball fell to the ground to giftwrap a run. With an out, Pearce lifted a fly to medium left. Alfonso Soriano didn't get behind the ball and pegged the toss home sidearm and off-line as Overbay jogged home with the second run.
McCutch drove one to the track; the wind held it up and Soriano made the catch after bumping into center fielder Tony Campana. Thank you kindly, Cubbies. Correia 1-2-3'ed Chicago and both sides went down quietly in the third.
The Bucs added on in the fourth, thanks to some control woes by Davis. He walked Cedeno and with two away, ditto Tabata. He clipped Pearce on an 0-2 pitch, and then walked McCutch after a long at-bat to plate one. The Pittsburgh Kid broke out of an 0-for-17 slump with a shot up the third base line. Ramirez made a nice diving stop of the ball, but Pearce's headlong slide beat him to the sack as another run came home.
The Cubs tried to answer with a leadoff infield single, their first hit, and a soft two-out fly that dropped a step in front of McCutch. Correia got a pop out to squelch the rally.
The Bucs wasted two more walks in the fifth, though they did get Davis to the showers. KC set Chicago down in order.
With one out in the sixth, McCutch singled and stole second. Then he stole third. But he needed to swipe home, too; Walker K'ed and Diaz grounded out. Correia kept rolling; he set down the Cubs in order, putting seven hitters down in a row.
Snyder led off with a rope into right, but the Bucs couldn't get a runner to second. The Cubs couldn't even do that; Pena's leadoff single was promptly erased on an around-the-horn DP.
Pittsburgh went down quietly in the eighth; the gulls of the lake provided more action. The Cubs went to work.
Koyie Hill dumped a soft liner just over Walker's leaping stab, and Correia issued a one-out walk to Fukudome. After 108 pitches, Clint Hurdle gave him a pat on the butt and called for Jose Veras. Correia went 7-1/3 innings, giving up fours hits with two K's and two walks.
Veras went 3-1 on the first two batters he faced; he got the first on a short fly, but the next walked. That loaded the bases for A-Ram, who has 9 career grand salamis on his resume. After a little pep talk from Ray Searage, JV pumped a strike past him and then got Ramirez on a pop to Walker.
Diaz doubled with one away in the ninth; he was left at third. Joe Beimel took the hill for the ninth. He walked Pena - what is it today with Pirate relievers falling behind with a big lead? - and then gave up a dinger to Soriano. Hanny took the ball. Good call; he struck out the side for save #15. As for Correia, well, he's the first NL pitcher to notch seven wins in 2011, and his ERA is now 3.44.
The Pirates are still having all sorts of problems at the plate. Their runs where basically Cubbie gifts; the Pirates stranded a dozen and were 2-for-15 with RISP. That has to change.
We'll see tomorrow if their bats wake up. Surely Paul Maholm is due for an outburst as he goes against Randy Wells.