The Cubs got their run in the third when the pitcher singled, went to second on a ground out and came home on Starlin Castro's two-out single up the middle. How thin a margin do Pirate pitchers work with? Well, that was the first hit the Cubs had with a runner in scoring position this series.
The Bucs got their hit that frame when Clint Barmes flared a ball into left for a two-bagger. He died at second.
Clint Hurdle was at his best in the seventh. Cutch got aboard on an error and stole second (on a bad throw, not on a good jump). Runner at second, no outs, clean-up guy up...hey, ya know a bunt's comin'. Gaby Sanchez couldn't get that first pitch down, fell in a hole and K'ed against Shawn Camp. Not that getting to third would have made a difference; Pedro popped out and Neil Walker looked at strike three as James Russell easily cleaned up Camp's mess.
Mark Melancon pitched a clean eighth and Kyuji Fujikawa came on for Chicago; he worked a 1-2-3 frame. Jared Hughes took the ball in the ninth and the game got away. He walked Anthony Rizzo on four pitches with an out. With two down, Rizzo stole second while Hughes fell behind Nate Schierholtz 3-1. The next pitch was a 91 MPH sinker over the dish that disappeared into the visitor's bullpen to make it 3-0.
The only good news was that brought Carlos Marmol to the bump. Starling Marte greeted him with a single and Russell Martin never took the bat off his shoulder, walking on a 3-2 slider. Cutch singled a run in, and there were Bucs on first and second. Gaby singled off Rizzo's glove, and just like that it was 3-2 with Pirates on the corners.
But Pedro couldn't tie it; he fished for a slider and went down swinging on three pitches. Neil Walker banged an 0-1 fastball to second, and Marmol had the last laugh as the 6-4-3 DP iced his first save of 2013. So much for situational hitting.
The bad parts: a) J-Mac took the loss instead of Hughes, and b) they really haven't seen great pitching yet, though they will on Friday and Saturday when the Bucs visit LA to meet Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Oh, and c) they played a bad series against a bad team; no way to sugarcoat that.
- Guess the guys couldn't play hooky twice in the same week. Today's attendance was 11,634.
- Stats are funny: The Cubs were 0-for-13 with RISP in the first two games, but were 2-for-2 today.
- RHP Adrian Sampson made Minor League Ball John Sickel's list of "Sleeper Prospects." He was a fifth round pick in last year's draft.