Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cubs Hit 3 Bombs, Bucs Strand 13 In 4-2 Loss

OK, decent enough start out of the gate for Jeff Locke. He gave up a couple of cheapos to Joe Mather (a bloop) and Anthony Rizzo (seeing eye grounder), but a full count 6-4-3 DP ball by Darwin Barney and a swinging whiff of Alfonso Soriano took care of that slight mess.

Chris Rusin had no problems with Brock Holt and Starling Marte, but he fed Cutch a heater on the inside half and watched it disappear in left center over the T-Mobile sign, number 25 for Andrew and his first long ball in three weeks. Garrett Jones followed with a knock and Gaby Sanchez with a four pitch walk. But the rookie lefty got Pedro fishing at a slider down and away to close out the frame without any more damage.

Castro got ahead 3-0 to open the second, but two pitches later poked a heater to Jones in right for the first out. After Josh Vitters grounded out, Dave Sappelt yanked a heater to left for a knock. No prob; Anthony Recker went down swinging. Rusin fed The Fort junk off the plate and got him swinging. Clint Barmes drew a 3-2 walk as a slider stayed outside. Locke struck out trying to bunt; he flat out missed two pitches he was trying to lay down. Holt bounced out to second, and two frames are in the books.

With an out in the third, Mather rapped his second knock of the day, a single to center. Barney legged out an infield knock. Rizzo calmed things down by flying out the opposite way on the first pitch, a high, inside half heater. Mather stole third - why not? - but Locke fanned Soriano a second time, pumping high gas past him.
With one away in the Bucco half, Cutch walked but was quickly erased on a 4-6-3 DP off Jones' bat.

Castro got into a hitter's count again at 3-1, and flew out again. But Vitters made a new game of it by blasting a homer over the wall in left off a first pitch, belt high heater, his second MLB dinger. An out later, Recker got a heater down the middle and he went yard to straightaway center for his first big league HR. Locke got Rusin for the third out, but the Bucs are now in a 2-1 hole. With one down for the Bucs, Pedro singled to center. The Fort lined a heater to left where Soriano tucked it away and Clint Barmes popped out to finish the fourth.

Locke tossed a clean fifth. The pitcher opened the Bucco half by singling to left for his first hit in the show after watching two strikes sail past him. Holt played a little small ball. After failing to bunt on the first pitch, he eventually reached on an infield knock. Marte fouled off a couple of bunts - why not leave an open base for Cutch? - and struck out chasing a change, easily Rusin's most effective pitch against righties today. Cutch went after a first pitch slider that was hung, but just missed it and flew out to right. On a 3-2 pitch, everyone was moving as Jones lined a ball to right, but Sappelt made a nice play to save Rusin's bacon and end the frame.

The sixth went smoothly for two outs, then Holt booted a ball by Vitters. Sappelt flew out, so no blood, no foul. Jaye Chapman came on for Rusin and whiffed Sanchez. Not so for Pedro, who got aboard on a dribbler; Rizzo dropped the throw to first. The Fort popped out, and Clement grabbed a bat in Barme's place, walking on a 3-2 change. That brought up Josh Harrisom, and he rolled over on a first pitch curve for a bouncer to third to end the inning. If you're counting, Pittsburgh is 0-for-5 with RISP and have stranded eight runners through six frames.

Locke went six, giving up two runs on seven hits with six whiffs while tossing 89 pitches. Don't let the lack of walks and K's fool ya; the Cubs were hacking away, and those numbers would be different against a more patient club. But he did his job; now it's up to the rest of the team to do theirs. Kyle McPherson took the mound and Jordy Mercer went to short in the seventh. After an out, pinch hitter Bryan LaHair singled to right. K-Mac moved the ball around the dish nicely on Mather, catching him looking at a curve. Barney bounced out to end the frame.

On came Manny Corpas for Chi-Town. Holt fell behind 0-2, took a chase pitch, then banged a knee high slider to right for a triple. Marte went after a first pitch heater up, a good location for a fly, but instead bounced it to first, freezing Holt. The Cubs wanted no part of Cutch; they intentionally walked him. James Russell, a lefty, took the ball to face Jones. He fed GI a pair of borderline off speed pitches Jones missed to get ahead 0-2, but worried about Cutch, he balked home the tying run and moved Andrew up a base. Jones flew out to left for the second out, then Russell intentionally walked Sanchez. It worked, as he got ahead of Pedro 0-2 on offspeed stuff and got him to bounce out to second. After seven, it's a 2-2 game.

Jason Grilli got back on the bike for the eighth. Rizzo greeted him with a knock to center. Soriano got a knee high, inside black heater for his first pitch and popped it over the center field fence, and there went the lead. Castro got a fastball up and on the outside half and blooped it to right, spinning over the railing for a ground rule double. He came back against Vitters, catching him looking at gas. David DeJesus pinch hit and walked on five pitches, and that brought on Chad Qualls. Recker took one to the track in left, but Marte was there. Luis Valbuena took a turn at the dish, and he went down fishing after a full count.

Shawn Camp got the call to deal to the Bucs. Pittsburgh didn't put a ball in play, twice whiffing and fouling out behind the dish. Hanny jogged in to try to keep it close while getting in a little work; the Bucs sure haven't been giving him many save opps in the past six weeks. Mather banged a 2-0 heater into center to open the ninth. Barney moved him to second with a weak roller to short, and another grounder got him to third. He lost Tony Campana on a 3-2 pitch and watched him take second on defensive indifference, like they could have stopped him if they tried. he whiffed Castro, and the Bucs were down to their last at-bats.

Carlos Marmol was looking for another save, this time against the top of the Buc order. Holt took two heaters for strikes, then banged one on the inside black and ankle high into left center for a knock. Marte walked on five pitches; now it's getting a little interesting with the middle of the order getting in line. Cutch went after a high heater, got under it and popped out. GI walked on four pitches to juice the sacks for Gaby. He struck out swinging at a high and tight heater. Pedro got in a quick hole fishing for a pair of ankle high sliders, and hit the next to left to end the game.

Again, no brain surgery to figure this one out. The Bucs stranded 13 and were 0-for-11 with RISP. The Cubs hit three homers. After losing 7-of-9 and with Cincinnati coming up, this could be the day the Pirate season ended and the Steelers' began.

Wandy Rodriguez takes on Mat Latos at Cincinnati tomorrow night.

  • 28,671 came to PNC Park on Sunday afternoon.
  • It'll be a full house in the Bucco locker room. Neal Huntington said on his radio show that the Bucs may bring two or three guys up from Indy, plus the coaches. That should challenge the hot water. He also added that Josh Bell, who tore his meniscus early in the year, won't be ready to play until the spring, and the FO is debating rest vs. another procedure on the knee. And he clarified Gustav Nunez's status, saying he was still on the 60-day DL and will remain so.

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