With an out in the second, Frankie plunked the 7 & 8 hitters on 0-2 and 0-1 counts, both turning into balls barely in and taking the pitch off the arm. Jake, a .300 hitter, wasn't bunting and rolled one gently up the middle for an inning ending DP. The Bucs had an inning. Freeser homered the opposite way off a heater, and Starling targeted Russell Addison, singling off his glove and then stealing second when the ball popped out of Russell's mitt. He went to third when Josh's fly was tracked down by the bullpen wall and jogged home when S-Rod sent a slider 406' into the LF seats to make it 3-0.
|A good outing by Frankie tonight (photo Charles LeClaire/USA Today)|
Freeser booted a ball to open the third, but Liriano cruised anyway. It was Arrieta's turn to dodge some raindrops. With an out, Gregory just got under a fastball and flew out to the track. Cutch doubled, then Freeser lasered a single to center, as Andrew stumbled out of the blocks in a soft patch (you could see the dirt fly as he tried to push off) and was held at third. Starling couldn't cash them in. The Cubs got one back in the fourth when Jason Heyward tripled just beyond Andrew's leaping effort and a grounder brought him home. Jake looked sharp in putting away the Pirates.
With one gone in the fifth, Frankie issued back-to-back walks after going 3-2 on all the first three Cub hitters. but worked out of it without any drama. The Pirates added a couple of more hits to the total, but stranded the pair. Hopefully, not chipping a padding run or two when the opp arises won't bite the Bucs later. No luck for Frankie in the sixth as another Freeser boot and a seeing eye single just beyond David (who was playing even the base with two strikes on lefty Heyward) put the first two Cubbies aboard. In came Juan Nicasio. The good news was the he got a DP; the bad news was that he got ahead of Miguel Montero 0-2, wasted a pair of high heaters, then served him a flat slider that was cranked over the Clemente Wall to tie the game. Jake tossed a 10 pitch, three grounder frame.
|Serpico kept on keepin' on tonite with a big two-run bomb (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Neftali Feliz took over in the seventh. he struck out the first two Cubbies, then tried to blow a 3-2 heater past Anthony Rizzo. It was center cut, and of course Rizzo, who feasts on Pirate pitching, dropped it into the seats to make it 4-3. That was followed by a walk - two of the balls could have easily been called strikes - before his third K shut it down.
The Indy gang ignited a rally. Adam Frazier walked (and could have been rung up a couple of times; this is one squeaky tight strike zone tonight) followed by Josh Bell stroking the first pitch he saw, a hung spinner, into RC to put Bucs on the corners. JJ followed with a two strike dink the opposite way, and the game was tied. Jake gave the ball to Travis Wood. Gregory hit a Baltimore chop to first; Rizzo's throw was a hair behind Wood covering and squirted free, allowing Bell to score and Jaso to get to third (Gregory pulled up gimpy; and Eric Fryer ran for him - he was due in to replace Kratz, who was pinch hit for).
Carl Edwards Jr took the bump; Cutch drilled an RBI single off him. A couple of weak grounders brought Fryer in to make it 7-4; a walk and a K closed the gate. Tony Watson threw a nine pitch eighth; pop up, walk, DP. The Pirates tacked on another, and Trevor Cahill was lucky at that - he walked three, hit one, and tossed two wild pitches. The key play to save his bacon was made by Javier Baez, who climbed the ladder to bring down Fryer's bullet.
|Tony Watson continues to own the eighth inning (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
AJ Schugel came in for the ninth. He got two quick outs and two strikes on the next pair of hitters, giving up a soft lob single and a walk. That brought in The Shark to close it out, and four pitches later, it was over. The Arrieta hex was lifted, at least for one night.
Big game for Frankie - his command was much better, as plate ump Alfonso Marquez called a very tight strike zone both ways. A complete team effort and approach at the plate paid off and helped overcome two bullpen homers. The last two games have been steps in the right direction for Liriano. And boy, do the Cubs look different. They could do no wrong in the field; now baseballs are flying in all directions. Let's hope the Pirates can prolong their misery for a couple of more games.
- Cutch had three hits and Freeser a pair, but what a team win - eight different Pirates scored, six drove in runs and 10 reached base.
- The second frame was the first time any team homered twice off Jake Arrieta in an inning since the Pirates went back-to-back-to-back off him on September 13th, 2013 (the Cubs won, 5-4). Before tonight, they were the only three long flies the Bucs had hit off him.
- Gregory left the game due to left hammy "tightness." We're not sure if that's more serious than "discomfort" or not
- S-Rod's homer had an exit speed of 109 MPH, the second hardest hit ball off Arrieta this year.
- Freeser has a nine game hitting streak.
- The game drew 35,904 fans, many visiting Chi-town rooters.Welcome to Pittsburgh!
- The Giants' 1B Brandon Belt won the Final All-Star Vote competition, with Starling Marte as the runnerup.
- Da Cubs' C Miguel Montero has thrown out two of 43 base stealers this season. Wow.
- The LA Dodgers claimed IF Cole Figueroa from the Bucs last week; they DFA'ed him today.