The third was a good frame for the Bucs. Travis Snider led off by sending a first-pitch fastball adios over the center field wall. Chris Stewart walked and was bunted to second. A grounder moved him to third and Josh's two-out knock, a liner off the pitcher, scored him. Chicago went down 1-2-3 again.
The fourth was a quick six-up, six down frame. The Pirates went down in order in the fifth; the Cubs got a one out walk, quickly erased on a 1-6-3 DP. With two gone in the sixth, Cutch and Ike had back-to-back knocks, but Josh ended the party with a pop up. Chicago made some noise, too, with a one-out walk followed by a single, but Cumpton clamped down for the final two outs, getting away with a couple of meatballs to retire the dangerous Anthony Rizzo on a grounder to short for the last one.
Snider singled in the seventh and advanced on a two-out passed ball, but Cumpton could only manage a grounder to second to end the frame. Brandon, who has traditionally had trouble as the game gets deeper and with Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena due up, is still on the hill after just 78 pitches so far. Castro rolled over on a slider to go down 5-3, Valbueno popped out foul behind third base and Nate Schierholtz looked at strike three. So much for the third time through the order.
Neil Ramirez came on for Chicago in the eighth, and walked El Coffee on four pitches. He stole second after receiving a lot of attention. Polanco slid a little late and was in discomfort, but after being checked out by the bench stayed on second. An out later, he was nailed trying to go to third on Cutch's grounder to short with the play in front of him; what would a Pirate game be without giving up a scoring chance for free on the bases? Ike walked on four pitches, so Polanco's miscue was negated. Jordy rolled over on an 0-2 slider and bounced to short to end the frame.
Tony Watson took the ball, kinda surprisingly with the bottom of the order up and Cumpton at 87 pitches, but Hurdle hates bringing guys on in the middle of an inning, and Tony is rarely a bad option. Junior Lake pushed a bunt single past the mound to open the Cubbie eighth. Darwin Barney got a pair of sinkers down the middle. He looked at the first one and bounced the second into left for a single. Pitcher Travis Wood came on to pinch hit, presumably to bunt the runners up, and dropped one successfully on the third try. Welington Castillo grabbed some lumber and K'ed after a lengthy at-bat on a foul tip of a pretty nasty change up. Justin Ruggiano was next in the pinch hit parade and looked at strike three. Three outs left to go.
Lefty James Russell climbed the hill in the ninth with Pedro and Travis due up. Pedro lined out and JT came up for Snider, and that brought Pedro Strop on. he coaxed a grounder out of Tabata and Stew flew out.
Mark the Shark came on to face the middle of the order, and Rizzo greeted him with a single to right. Castro swung at a two-strike cutter that was six inches outside and dropped it into right to put Cubs on the corners. Valbueno whiffed, swinging through a curve. Melancon left Schierholtz a heater down the middle, but lucked out when he tapped to Harrison for the force with Rizzo coming home to make it 2-1. Lake skyed one to right; Polanco fought off the sun to make the catch, and the Bucs took a hard fought series from Chicago.
Well, Brandon Cumpton isn't conceding his spot in the rotation just yet, and will probably get one more start, as will Jeff Locke and Vance Worley, to make his case. A two-hit shutout over seven is a pretty effective calling card. The pen made things exciting, but kept the lead. All in all, a nice bounce back after the first game defeat; the Bucs need to keep piling up series wins as they're at 37-38.
Edinson Volquez takes on Alex Cobb tomorrow night at Tampa Bay.
- Gregory Polanco's 11 game hitting streak ended when he took a walk in the eighth. On the bright side, that led to his first MLB stolen base.
- Starling Marte is expected to be back tomorrow after his personal leave caused him to miss a pair of games.
- Decision time is nearing for the Bucs. Neil Walker should be back sometime during the Tampa Bay series, and Gerrit Cole will pitch a sim game tomorrow, which puts him on track for a June 28th start. Both will require movement in the active roster, and Walker's return will be particularly interseting. We assume the Bucs are trying to move JT or Travis, and Clint Barmes is on the list, too.