Frankie opened the third by bouncing a single up the middle; he was quickly erased when JJ rolled over and banged into an easy 4-6-3 DP. Pity; Cutch doubled and Gregory walked, but Starling whiffed; he was fed breaking stuff off the plate and swung through three of the offerings. Liirano walked Jason Heyward (a lefty hitting .216) on four pitches and went 3-0 on Kris Bryant, who thankfully had the green light and popped out. Another K - Francisco's fifth - closed the frame.
|El Coffee had a pair of doubles today (photo Phil Kerbey/Getty Images)|
The Bucs went down in order in the fourth. Frankie may have had some ump induced blues; a leadoff single was followed by a full count walk that looked like a squeeze job, and Frankie didn't get the call on a 2-2 curve on Addison Russell; he came back with a hung slider, and Russell deposited it in the bleachers to make it 3-0. Tho Frankie didn't get a couple of calls, he's the one getting into deep counts, and it cost him. The Pirates wasted a two out single by JJ in the fifth.
You can put a fork in Francisco; a leadoff single was followed by a Bryant blast, and it's 5-0. Rizzo hit a shot to center; Cutch almost pulled it in, but jumped maybe a half step early and had it pop out for a double, followed by another walk. A couple of fan jobs almost got Liriano out of it, but not quite; David Ross drilled one more into the seats, and in came Ryan Vogelsong to finish up.
Gregory doubled and Starling singled to put Bucs on the corners in the sixth; Starling went for second, swiped the sack and watched the ball short hop into center. El Coffee scored, Marte moved up and then touched home on Fran's little infield roller that went for a base hit. A whiff and DP put a quick end to the rally. V-Song worked a 1-2-3 frame.Jordy and S-Rod led off with a pair of undisciplined efforts in the seventh, both fanning. JJ looked at a couple and walked. Maddon switched pitchers (Hammel was at 103 pitches), going with Adam Warren, who put out the ember. Jared Hughes tucked the Cubs away.
Madden has a short hook; Clayton Richard, who resurrected his career at Indy last year, came on in the eighth, gave up a double to Gregory, and was yanked for Trevor Cahill. Starling legged out a hit, then stole second. In a rare bit of caution, Rick Sofield held Polanco at third on a pair of medium flies. Hindsight is 20-20, but both throws were off line (the first one was hit to Heyward, who has an excellent arm, and even with the throw kicking a step or so up the line might have been iffy); as it is the Bucs put up a zippo.
|Starling had two hits and stole a pair of sack (photo Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)|
Arquimedes Caminero came on and gave up another run on a bloop, passed ball, and well-placed leg double; he was saved further damage by a nice diving stop by S-Rod, who was at short. The Bucs made a little ninth inning noise off Cahill thx to Cutch's two-run blast, but too little, too late.
It was a tight strike zone today for both sides, not Frankie's ideal milieu, and just another little reminder that he has to get ahead to be effective. Maybe the Buc offense can build off a some solid late inning stroking, but they have to be more selective against guys like Hammel. Arrieta tosses tomorrow, and he's a strike thrower and beast; the Cubs have won the last 20 games he's started.
- Cutch has a seven game hitting streak going on after a single, double and homer today.Gregory and Starling each added a pair of knocks, with both of El Coffee's good for two bags.
- Some timing: the Bucs chopped their eight man bullpen down to the usual seven today, and Frankie gets the hook after 4-2/3IP.
- Amazing Cub fact: their pitchers have gone five innings or more in 42 straight games.
- Phil Rogers of MLB.com writes that it's too early to write off the Pirates or Cards in the Central Division race.
- Ross Ohlendorf was suspended for three games for bopping a Buc last series; Bryan Price got a game off too just for being his manager.