AJ tucked away the bottom of the Cubbie order. With one down for the Bucs, Gaby Sanchez fell behind 1-2, but took the next three to draw a walk. He didn't stay on the basepaths very long; Pedro rolled over on second pitch, bouncing it to Darwin Barney to start a 4-6-3 DP.
With two down in the third, Rizzo singled to left on a seeing-eye roller. Soriano followed with his second knock to left on another ball that just found a hole. Marte bobbled the horsehide but still came up firing, airmailing his toss to third and allowing Alfonso to reach second. Castro smacked a slurve to left; both runners scored and he reached second on Marte's wayward throw on another ball he didn't come up with cleanly. Clevenger yanked a heater to right to plate another Bruin, and the Cub's two-out lightning was flashing. Jackson K'ed, but the Cubs were up 4-0. The bottom of the Buc order went down in order, with two K and a deep fly to center by Josh Harrison. The Pirate line after three: no runs, no hits, three errors.
Barney led off the fourth with an infield knock; AJ isn't getting hit hard, but the Cubbies are finding the dead zones. Wood was swinging with two strikes and flew out to left, earning Marte a Bronx cheer after the grab. AJ got a pop up and punch out to finish off the frame. Holt opened by K'ing on three pitches, Marte on four. Maybe this MLB gig isn't as easy as it looks, hey? Cutch squared up on a first pitch on the inside half and down, but his ball found leather, robbed of a homer by a leaping Soriano grab that pulled the ball back into the yard.
AJ nailed the first two outs in the fifth, made on nice plays by Cutch and Holt, but Castro kept the frame alive by knocking a slurve to left and stealing second. Clevenger K'ed to end the frame. Jones flew out to left to open the Pirate half. Sanchez took a pitch to the track in left for a loud out, and Pedro finally found grass with the Bucs first knock, a double to center that ticked off Jackson's mitt at the wall. Hot Rod lined out the opposite way; the Bucs squared up on Wood this inning, but have nada to show for it.
Jackson opened the sixth with an infield knock, went to second on a wild pitch and third on a Barney grounder to short; Harrison tried to get the lead guy and didn't, placing Cubs on the corners with no outs. Wood bunted; Barajas' throw to second was off line and the runner at second won the call on a bang-bang play. It was close enough to draw Clint Hurdle's ire, and Gary Darling bounced him for his protest. Oh, and the bases are loaded with no outs. Not a lot of fundamental baseball going on right now for the home team.
DeJesus bounced one to first; Sanchez's throw took Hot Rod off the plate and allowed the fifth run to score. So if you're counting, that's five runs on five errors. Both AJ and Hot Rod were pulled; Justin Wilson and The Fort came on. We won't bother with AJ other than he got the Cubs to pound the ball into the dirt; he just didn't have any support behind him.
Valbuena greeted Wilson with a wall-kissing double, and it was 7-0. Rizzo walked to load the bases again, and Chris Leroux took the bump. He fanned Soriano with a slider. Castro lifted a first pitch heater to right, too shallow to bring in DeJesus. Leroux threw one past Clevenger to end the frame; it was a lot for the Cubs and none for Pittsburgh.
With an out, The Fort drew a five pitch walk. Holt banged into a force, then Marte walked. Cutch put another charge into a shot to center; it too was grabbed at the track by Jackson, who bounced face-first off the bullpen fence after making the catch. Jackson took sure extra bases away from McCutch. He has just short of 800' worth of carry in his last pair of at bats with nothing to show for it.
Tony Campana reached on a Harrison boot and went to second on a wild pitch to open the seventh. After a pesky eight pitch at bat, Barney lined out to right and Wood bounced out. It was Holt's turn to muff a ball hit by DeJesus after another eight pitch battle; there were Cubs on the corners. Hisanori Takahashi came on to see if his luck was any better. It wasn't; Valbuena walked to juice the bases. Five pitches later, so did Rizzo. Soriano singled in a pair, and Castro doubled in a couple more before Clevenger flew out. It's 12-0, ouch!
Alberto Cabrera came on for Wood, who is pretty certain to snap his personal 10-game losing streak. He put the Bucs away neatly, giving up a two-out walk to Pedro. Kyle McPherson toed the rubber in the eighth, and gave up and infield single, followed by a DP and K. It was James Russell's turn on the mound for Chi-Town. J-Hay singled and came around on Mike McKenry's double. Brock beat out an infield knock to put Bucs on the corners; a Marte sac fly brought The Fort home. Presley turned a 3-0 count into a swinging K and a Jones bouncer ended the frame.
K-Mac tossed a clean ninth. Carlos Marmol took the bump to finish off Pittsburgh. He walked Sanchez to start the final inning. Pedro tapped back to the mound, Jordy Mercer K'ed on three pitches and Harrison on four to close the curtain at long last.
The Bucs took the field and a little league game broke out. It happens, though if we were Clint Hurdle, we'd write a note to self as a reminder to pick one of J-Hay and Brock and one of Clint Barmes or Mercer, especially with an extreme ground ball guy like AJ on the bump.
Jeff Samardzija faces James McDonald tomorrow night.
- The Pirates’ seven errors are most since September 16th, 1985, during an 8-4 loss to the Cards, and is one shy of the franchise record set September 17th, 1939 in a 7-3 loss to Philly; 3B Frankie Gustine had three misplays that day and every Phil run was unearned. The last time the Bucs had 5+ errors and won was on September 4th, 1971, a 7-6 victory over the Montreal Expos. Pittsburgh mishandled six balls and the Expos clanked four.
- 32,699 showed up tonight; maybe they should get free tickets for the next MLB game at PNC.
- Starlin Castro's 500th hit, a single in the fifth, made him the 28th player in MLB history to reach that milestone before turning 23.
- 2B Darwin Barney of the Cubs extended his errorless streak to a NL single-season record 123 straight games, matching Ryne Sandberg's overall NL mark.
- Facing post-season elimination, Indy sent RHP Phil Irwin to the hill. He went seven scoreless frames, giving up two hits with a walk and 11 K in an 8-0 win.