It was a good opening frame for Travis Wood and Vance Worley; they retired the sides in order, and the second was more of the same. The third was almost a replay except for Jordy Mercer ad libbing; he homered on a 1-2 slider to make it 1-0 Bucs after three.
In the fourth, Cutch walked and stole second, going in headfirst and taking a tag to the puss. But he recovered after a medical confab at the bag, and JT walked with two down. Gaby drilled a fastball to left, but the Pirates again showed warning track power and it was loud out number three. Vanimal's outing hit a speed bump. Chris Coghlan rolled a single to right, and an out later, Anthony Rizzo sent a curve into the seats. Starlin Castro then drew a free pass, but Worley settled down to close the frame.
Jordy opened the fifth with a single to left, was bunted up. Gregory Polanco drew a walk with two down. Josh broke an 0-for-13 slump with a single up the middle on a first pitch cutter to knot the score. Cutch unknotted it with a single to left, El Coffee scoring and Josh chugging into third. That was it for Wood; Brian Schlitter came on to face Russ, who bounced out to stop the music. Darwin Barney doubled to open the Cub half, but couldn't get around.
Justin Grimm took over in the sixth, and Gaby touched him for a single with one gone. He didn't last long; Jordy grounded a fastball to short for a 6-4-3 DP. Worley worked through the 2-3-4 hitters of the Cubs without a problem, spinning just ten pitches.
Grimm had a couple of balls squared up on him in the seventh, but they found leather. That wasn't quite enough; the Bucs challenged the out call at first on Polanco's ball smoked to short with two gone, and it was overturned in NY. The kid can run, and good thing. Josh bombed the next pitch, a slider just below the knees but middle of the plate, over the wall in right, and Vanimal had some breathing room at 5-2.
With an out, Junior Lake punched a single to center. Barney got a rare mistake pitch down the middle, but Worley got away with it as he hit into a force that Rick Renteria challenged without luck. But Vance made the same mistake twice, both times on sliders, and Eli Whiteside doubled to left center to make it 5-3; Russ couldn't come up with the throw on the play at home. Nate Schierholtz grabbed a stick, and Clint Hurdle called on Jared Hughes to replace Worley. Jared got him on a short fly to right to shut the door.
Carlos Villanueva answered the phone for the eighth inning call and worked a quiet frame. Ike Davis took over at first and Tony Watson climbed the hill to face the Cubbies top of the order and sat them down. Villanueva put the Pirates away neatly in the ninth, and Mark the Shark claimed the bump. It was taking candy from a baby; he whiffed the side, getting two-strike swings-and-misses at his curve.
Vance Worley isn't toolsy, but he did a good job of using the edges and changing levels. He hung a curve to the wrong guy, and when he began leaving pitches over the dish, Clint did a good job of getting him out of harm's way in a hurry. It's nice to have the bats working, and nicer to see the bullpen back in a comfortable routine after the shuffle.
Brandon Cumpton faces Jason Hammel in the series decider tomorrow afternoon.
- It took a challenge, but Gregory Polanco's hitting streak is now at 11 games.
- The top of the order may have had a new amigo today with Josh, but they still went 4-for-10 with two walks, three runs scored and four RBI.
- Russ Martin is second (.429) and Andrew McCutchen is third (.422) in NL OBP. Troy Tulowitzki leads the pack with a .451 OBP.
- The Pirates are the only team in the NL this season that has had five different players put together hitting streaks of 10 games or more; Andrew McCutchen (12 games), Neil Walker (11), Starling Marte (10), Josh Harrison (10) and Gregory Polanco (10). The Tigers are the only other Major League club to hold this distinction.