Today was just another loss, the seventh in a row, chalked up to the pitching this time. James McDonald couldn't get through the fourth, and a tag team from the pen couldn't hold the Cubs at bay as the Bucs went down 7-4 at Wrigley.
J-Mick went just 3-2/3 frames, giving up four runs on five hits and four walks on 83 pitches and was sitting at just 90 MPH all day. It was scoreless into the Cubbie third, only because Chi-Town had stranded four runners in the opening pair of innings. Luis Valbuena led off the frame with a double, moved up a station on a bouncer and came home on Starlin Castro's two-out liner to center off a slider.
Over the first four innings, Chris Rusin held the Pirates hitless. The only runners were Clint Barmes, who took one on the hip for the team, and Starlin Marte, who reached on an error but was quickly erased when he broke early and was picked off.
The Cubs, meanwhile, sent McDonald to the showers in the fourth. With two down, the Cubs had Darwin Barney aboard on a walk. Two more free passes loaded the bases, and Clint Hurdle went for a lefty-lefty scenario, calling on Justin Wilson to face Anthony Rizzo. Wilson fed the first baseman a pair of heaters, and he drilled the second to right to plate a pair. Chris Leroux took the ball for a righty-righty matchup with Alfonso Soriano, who reached on an infield single off Clint Barmes' glove at short to make it 4-0.
Rusin owned the Pirates through the first four innings, but the Bucs were warming up at last. Gaby Sanchez yanked a slider to left for a leadoff double in the fifth, the Pirates' first hit. An out later, he touched home after Pedro Alvarez's single to left, scoring easily as Soriano lost his footing on the throw home. Pinch-hitter Jose Tabata singled to put runners on first and third with two down, but Brock Holt rolled a sinker to first to end the inning. The Cubs went down quietly against Kyle McPherson, who gave up a bloop hit to Barney.
Marte singled to open the Pirates' sixth, and Rusin was pulled; Dale Sveum didn't feel like pressing his luck any further. Maybe he should have; Jaye Chapman wasn't exactly lights out. A grounder and infield single by Jones put Bucs on the corners with one away. Sanchez's knock brought in Marte and The Fort walked to load the sacks. Pedro bounced out to first to plate him when the Cubbies couldn't turn the DP. The Kid made his first appearance of the month, but went down swinging at a heater. It was at least interesting again at 4-3.
Hurdle put in lefty Tony Watson to face the top three hitters in the Cubs' order, all lefties, in the sixth. He walked Valbuena sandwiched between a pair of outs, and the skipper called on Jared Hughes with a string of righties due. Probably a little overmanaging there; Hughes hit Soriano with his first pitch, and the second left the yard when Castro bombed a sinker over the left field wall to make it 7-3 Cubs.
Cutch hit his 27th home run, an opposite-field blast off a Manny Corpas slider, in the seventh. That was it; Chad Qualls & Bryan Morris (in his MLB debut) for the Bucs and Shawn Camp & Carlos Marmol of the Cubs put up zeroes the rest of the way.
Nothing like giving up seven two-out runs, hey? Whatever happened to the Pirate mantra of "finish?"
Wandy Rodriguez faces waiver claim Jason Berken tomorrow afternoon.
- .Brock Holt's eight-game hitting streak ended today with an 0-for-5 outing.
- The Pirates tied a team record for the fith time by using eight pitchers in a nine inning game.
- The Bucs extended their season high losing string to seven games and are 4-12 in their last 16 contests. That last number coincides with how many games it's been since Neil Walker started.
- The Cubs Chris Rusin earned his first MLB win today and set a personal high for whiffs with six.