Nate Schierholtz drew a leadoff walk in the second, combining the two things that most curse Bucco pitchers. He was bunted to second and moved to third on a Brian Bogusevic bloop into left that fell in front of JT. Darwin Barney missed on a safety squeeze try, but made up by bouncing into a force to score Schierholtz. Arrieta K'ed, but an opening walk again reared its ugly head. The Bucs went down quietly. Both clubs went down in order in the third. Arrieta, not a strikeout guy, has four K in three frames. He's left a lot of pitches up, and the Pirates haven't been able to make him pay.
Dioner Navarro began the fourth with a sharp single to right, and two outs later, Morton left a first pitch two seamer down the middle that Bogusevich hit over the wall in center to make it 3-0. Charlie got Barney, but not only is he in a hole, but is also at 70 pitches. After a Cutch line out and Morneau tapper to the hill, Pedro got off his home run schneid by banging a 2-1 slider high off the wall in right center, getting a wicked hop off the fence (it may have actually been over the wall and bounced off a fan's hands) and touching all four bases for an inside the park dinger. Russ Martin followed with a shot that cleared the fence in left, and it's a ball game. Not to be outdone, Garrett Jones went yard to center - the last two were on first pitches - and it's knotted at three.
With one down in the fifth, Starlin Castro rolled a single through the left side. Charlie got through the frame, but was struggling. He left after five innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks with five K, tossing 93 pitches. After an out, JT singled, but was doubled up trying to advance on Walker's fly out to right.
Justin Wilson climbed the hill in the sixth. With two outs, Ryan Sweeney singled on a 3-2 fastball down the middle, and Bogusevich followed with a first pitch broken bat knock to put Cubbies on the corners; he's 3-for-3. Wilson came back to whiff Barney and keep it tied. Justin's velocity is down; Hurdle has been limiting his appearances and innings to try to keep him fresh in his first full big league season.
Cutch looked overmatched swinging at a pair of high heaters; then he banged one high off the Clemente Wall for a double. Looks can be deceiving. Brooks Raley came in from the pen to face the Bucco brace of lefties. he got a pop to the mound from Morneau and a grounder to first by Pedro. But Raley dropped the throw on Alvarez's ball, and Cutch kicked it in another gear to score the lead run. A bouncer moved El Toro to second, and Marlon Byrd grabbed a twig. That brought in Carlos Villanueva, and The Byrd kept the inning alive with an infield knock. Travis Snider picked up a stick, but his liner to center was gloved, with the Bucs up 4-3.
Jason Grilli got the call in the seventh, with Byrd staying in left and Jordy Mercer coming in at short. After striking out the first pair of Bruins - and they were swinging at everything - he walked Larry Valbueno, missing on the 3-2 pitch. The third out is the money out, and Grilli didn't get it; Rizzo ripped a hung slider into the stands and the Cubs regained the lead 5-4. Navarro followed with a single on a pitch that was down the middle. Grilli is pretty much limited to 20 pitches as he tries to rebuild strength, and that was it as Vin Mazzaro came in from the pen. A wild pitch moved the insurance run to second, but Vin got Schierholtz to fly out.
More work to do... Justin Grimm came on, and was more fortunate than good. Mercer flew out to deep center and JT lined out to right before Walker drew a four pitch pass. But he got the third out, as Cutch swung under a just-above-the-belt heater and popped out foul behind the plate.
After a K to open the eighth, Bogusevich reached again, this time on a boot by Mercer. But Vin finished with a couple of routine outs to keep it a one-run game. Pedro Strop came on; the Cubs don't have a LHP left they trust, even with Morneau and Pedro due up. Morneau went down on four pitches, fishing for a slider. Pedro singled to center and Josh Harrison came in to run. Strop blew a fastball past Martin and Byrd bounced out; time is slipping away.
Kyle Farnsworth took the ball in the ninth. After two routine outs, Rizzo singled to center, but a comebacker ended the frame. Kevin Gregg took the bump. after two infield outs, JT reached on an infield single, and Starling Marte came on to run. Walker ran into to one, but hit it to deep center where it became a loud third out, a step or two from the 404' mark.
Pittsburgh actually hit the ball pretty well most of the night; a couple of feet of carry or a liner or two that found grass instead of gloves could have changed the game.
The pitching wasn't good enough tonight. The Pirates walked three men; two scored. Both sides had third out woes; there were five homers, and all came with two gone. Jason Grilli certainly isn't near his closer form yet; his velocity is getting there, but his command is all over the place. And with the days dwindling, he may not have the time to get himself into back-end shape.
It would have been nice to have a lefty work against Rizzo in the seventh, who hits same side pitching even worse than Pedro, but except for Kris Johnson, the cupboard was bare. Clint uses Tony Watson with the lead; that's how he works his set up man, and already burned Justin Wilson.
As a sidebar, a sound argument could be made that Chase d'Arnaud should be on the roster, too. Bringing in Josh Harrison as a pinch runner generally isn't much of an upgrade on the base paths. Chase isn't Billy Hamilton, but he's as close as Pittsburgh has.
Gerrit Cole takes on Scott Baker tomorrow.
- Tonight was the first time since August 20th, 2003 at St. Louis (Jason Kendall, Brian Giles and Reggie Sanders) that the Buccos went long back to back to back. It was the first time the Bucs did it at PNC Park. It's the first Pirate three-pack at home since July 6th, 1955, at Forbes Field, when they (Jerry Lynch, Frank Thomas, Dale Long) did it against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
- The Reds lost 5-1 to the Brewers tonight; the Cards and Mariners were tied late.
- Cutch has an eleven game hitting streak, which covers every game in September that he's played.
- Pedro went 52 at-bats between home runs #33 and #34.
- Uh oh - a new streak: The Pirates have lost 11 straight games on Friday the 13th, now the longest such losing streak in MLB history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.