Game Thirty-Six – Cubs 6 Pirates 10
WP – Evan Meek (2-1) LP – Carlos Zambrano (1-3) Save – None
One day the Cubs can’t hit, one day the Cubs can’t pitch about the only thing that has been consistent through 36 games is that the Cubs play poor fundamental baseball. Friday afternoon it was the pitching staff’s turn.
The Pirates came limping into Chicago after being swept by the Reds. Pittsburgh managed one run on 10 hits in the three game series against Cincinnati … but against Cubs’ pitching, the Pirates continue to look like the ’27 Yankees. To put it into perspective, the Pirates have scored 21 runs in the last 18 innings against Lou Piniella’s pitching staff.
The Cubs lost their fourth in a row to the Bucs and their sixth in a row to the Pirates dating back to last season. The last time a Cubs team dropped six in a row to a Pirates’ squad was 1992.
Tom Gorzelanny was horrible for the first time this season and set a bad tone for the afternoon in the first inning. The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first but the Cubs’ offense bounced back and actually took a 6-4 lead into the fifth. But Lou Piniella left Gorzelanny in too long and the Pirates started chipping away at the two-run lead.
The Pirates scored six runs in four of the last five innings. The big blast … a three-run homer by Garrett Jones off of Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano took over in the eighth and proceeded to give up three runs on four hits. After Zambrano hit Andy LaRoche to start the eighth the writing was on the wall … it was going to be a long, frustrating inning.
Andrew McCutchen (5-for-5 with a home run, a walk, two RBI and five runs scored) and Garrett Jones (5-for-6 with five RBI, a home run and two runs scored) had career days on Friday. Both players recorded the first five hit games of their career and finished a combined 10-for-11 with two home runs, seven RBI, seven runs scored and a walk. McCutchen added a pair of stolen bases and the duo showed how young, athletic players can perform when given a chance to play.
Cubs’ pitching retired the Pirates in order twice in nine innings. Gorzelanny sat the Bucs down in order in the second and John Grabow struck out the side, 1-2-3, in the seventh.
The Pirates scored 10 runs on 16 hits …
The Cubs offense did their job Friday afternoon. Marlon Byrd (2-for-4 with a home run, a double, a RBI and two runs scored) hit his seventh home run in the fourth that gave the Cubs a 6-4 lead. Byrd also hit his 15th double of the season, three behind the NL leader Jayson Werth. Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored) also had a solid game at the plate and drove in two of the Cubs’ six runs.
Aramis Ramirez showed signs of life Friday with his first multi-hit game since Opening Day. Ramirez doubled, singled and scored a run in five trips to the plate. Ramirez’s double ended up in the ivy and kept him from driving a run in. For perspective on how bad Ramirez has struggled this season … Ramirez has not hit a home run since April 15.
With another embarrassing loss, the Cubs slipped back to six games under .500 and right now Lou Piniella’s crew is just a bad baseball team … The Pirates jumped on Tom Gorzelanny in the first inning. Andy LaRoche doubled to left with one out. Andrew McCutchen singled to center on a 1-1 pitch and plated LaRoche with the game’s first run. Garrett Jones followed with a single to right.
With runners on first and second with one out, Gorzelanny walked Ryan Doumit to load the bases.
Gorzelanny continued to struggle with his command and walked Lastings Milledge. Gorzelanny’s second walk of the inning forced in McCutchen … 2-0 Pirates. Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to left, Jones tagged and scored 3-0 Pirates.
Ronny Cedeno struck out to end the top of the first.
The Cubs answered the Bucs three-run first with a four-run home half. Marlon Byrd doubled to left center. Derrek Lee followed with a single to left. Byrd held at third with one out.
Xavier Nady hit a sacrifice fly to right center, Byrd tagged and scored … 3-1 Pirates.
Aramis Ramirez then doubled to left. The ball ended up in the ivy for a ground rule double. Alfonso Soriano then blooped a double to right. Lee and Ramirez scored to tie the game at three. The Cubs actually caught a break and took a 4-3 lead after Geovany Soto’s grounder to third went under Andy LaRoche’s glove into left field. Soriano scored and Soto ended up at second.
Brian Burres intentionally walked Starlin Castro but struck out Tom Gorzelanny to end the inning.
After a wild first inning, the Cubs were up 4-3.
Gorzelanny retired the Bucs in order in the second but Andrew McCutchen led off the third with a bunt single. McCutchen stole second and scored on a bloop single to right by Garrett Jones … game tied at four.
After Ryan Doumit singled, Lastings Milledge struck out, Steve Pearce fouled out and Ronny Cedeno struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the third. Alfonso Soriano reached on a one-out single to left. Soto struck out but Brian Burres walked Starlin Castro on four pitches. Tom Gorzelanny then delivered a two-out single to left on a 3-2 pitch. Soriano scored … 5-4 Cubs.
Gorzelanny dodged a bullet in the fourth after Aramis Ramirez could not start an around the horn double play. Gorzelanny struck out Jones with two on to end the inning.
Marlon Byrd gave the Cubs a two-run lead with his seventh longball of the year in the fourth … and the game went downhill after Byrd’s dinger.
Gorzelanny retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth but issued a two-out walk to Steve Pearce … then walked Ronny Cedeno. With two outs, Piniella left in Gorzelanny to try to qualify for the win. And it cost the Cubs a run.
After Zach Duke replaced Pearce at second, Jeff Clement hit for Brian Burres and singled to right. Duke scored the Pirates’ fifth run. Aki Iwamura grounded out to first to end the inning but the damage was done.
Tom Gorzelanny allowed five runs on nine hits in five innings with four walks and seven strikeouts. Gorzelanny threw 113 pitches.
Esmailin Caridad took the mound in the sixth and left with his second blown save of the season. After retiring Andy LaRoche, Caridad walked McCutchen. He stole second and scored on a double by Garrett Jones … game tied at six.
Piniella brought in Sean Marshall and he retired two of the three batters he pitched to … Milledge was intentionally walked but Marshall struck out Bobby Crosby to end the inning.
John Grabow struck out the side in order in the seventh and turned the tied game over to Carlos Zambrano.
Big Z hit Andy LaRoche to start the eighth. Andrew McCutchen singled to right and both scored on Garrett Jones’ three-run homer to right center. Jones launched Zambrano’s 3-2 pitch after just missing a home run down the line in right earlier in the at bat.
Ryan Doumit followed Jones’ blast with a double and Milledge singled. The Pirates put runners on first and third with no outs. Zambrano wiggled out of the inning by retiring the next three batters. Z threw 35 pitches in the eighth … 19 for strikes.
The Pirates 10th run came off of James Russell in the ninth … a solo home run by Andrew McCutchen. Just icing on the cake for the Pirates.
Saturday is a new day … but will the results be different?
Ryan Dempster against Paul Maholm on Saturday afternoon.