He gave up a first inning run when a leadoff walk was cashed in after a tapper and ground ball single. The Cubs threatened to put it away then, when another walk and an infield single loaded the sacks, but AJ had a K and bouncer up his sleeve. Another run crossed the plate in the second when Arrieta homered, the first time in Burnett's career that he's allowed an opposing pitcher to go long.
Burnett left a pair on in the fourth, again reaching back for a couple of punchouts. AJ had two on with an out in the fifth; another K and a fly took care of that. A single in the sixth was erased on a caught stealing (upon review) and that inning ended AJ's night. He went six, giving up two runs, seven hits, two walks, a bopped batter and five whiffs, doing what he does best, ducking raindrops.
El Coffee got the Bucs' first hit to open the seventh; he stole second as Starling K'ed. Cutch got HBP, and the Pirates had a threat. Jake fed A-Ram a slider and he scorched the pitch, but right at Starlin Castro for a deflating 6-4-3 DP.
|AJ was tough, but Jake was tougher (photo Rick Scuteri/USA Today)|
Travis Wood climbed the hill for Chicago in the eighth. He didn't miss a beat, whiffing The Kid and Fran on six pitches. Josh then worked a walk, but Jordy flew out to left to leave the Pirates just three more outs. Joe Blanton toed the rubber and tossed a clean frame. Pittsburgh went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Cubs avoided the sweep.
Tough to win with one hit, but Jake does that to teams. Arrieta got the better of tonight's strike zone, too, but an ace at home will get that advantage. The key to us was the seventh; AJ kept the Bucs around til then, and if A-Ram gets under the ball instead on top, and the bullpen doesn't give up a big two-out hit, (and we're not sure that you can even properly warm up four pitchers in one inning; but we guess use what ya got), it's a different game.
Now the Bucs come home after a wildly successful (8-2) road trip to take on the Cards for three games. And they have to think sweep if they want to wrest away the division crown; they're three back, and the Redbirds close out the year against the sad sack Bravos. Jay Happ and Lance Lynn kick of the festivities.
- AJ became the 32nd MLB pitcher to collect 2,500 punchouts in his career.
- This was the first time in five sets that the Pirates have failed to sweep a three-game series in which Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano and Burnett have pitched.
- A nice gesture: the Cubs held a ceremony for A-Ram before the game, much as the Brewers did a little earlier in the season. Been a pretty sweet farewell tour for Aramis.