Marmol Put One on a Platter for the Pirates – Cubs 4 Pirates 7

Game Ninety – Cubs 4 Pirates 7
WP – Daniel McCutchen (3-1) LP – Sean Marshall (5-3) Save – Joel Hanrahan (26)

Friday night was a typical Cubs-Pirates game. The Cubs left the Pirates hanging around, Pittsburgh came back, took the lead late and their pen was able to nail down the win.

The Cubs took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of eighth after Darwin Barney came through with another clutch hit. Barney singled with one out in the top of eighth and for the second night in a row he gave his team a one run lead.

Sean Marshall started the eighth and issued a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Matt Diaz. Marshall retired Andrew McCutchen and appeared to get out of the inning when Neil Walker hit a grounder to second base … but Starlin Castro’s throw was high and Carlos Pena could not keep his foot on the bag. After Lyle Overbay singled to put the tying run at second with two outs, Mike Quade went to his pen for Carlos Marmol.

Former Cubs farmhand, Josh Harrison (3-for-4, double, run scored and a RBI) lined Marmol’s first pitch into center. Walker scored and tied the game at two.

Marmol jumped ahead of Michael McKenry 0-2 but the rookie catcher kept battling and fouled off five pitches before launching the eighth pitch of the at bat well over the wall in left. McKenry’s three-run shot off Marmol was his first big league home run.

Carlos Marmol blew his sixth save of the season (the 13th for the Cubs pen) and the Cubs lost a game for the 27th time in which they had a lead.

The Cubs led Friday night’s game three different times but the Battlin’ Bucs kept fighting back and showed energy and enthusiasm that the Cubs simply do not have.

Aramis Ramirez (2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and a HBP) stayed hot. Ramirez gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead with his 15 homer of the season in the first inning … the first run scored by the Cubs in an opening inning since June 27 (12 games).

Alfonso Soriano (2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI), Marlon Byrd (3-for-3 with a double, a walk and two runs scored) and Darwin Barney (2-for-3 with a walk and a RBI) led a Cubs offense that pounded out 11 hits … but not when they had a chance to put the game away. The Cubs finished the game 3-for-9 with RISP, and 10 left on base.

Rodrigo Lopez put together another quality start (three runs on eight hits with a walk. a HBP and three strikeouts in six innings) and left with the game tied. Lopez threw 98 pitches (a season-high) and gave his team a chance to put a win on the board.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped back to 18 games under .500 with a 36-54 record …

The Cubs finally scored a run in the first inning … and did not allow one in the same game. After James McDonald retired Fukudome (ground out to second) and Castro (strikeout) to start the game, Aramis Ramirez launched the first pitch over the wall in right center. Ramirez’s 15th of the season gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead … the first run the Cubs have scored in an opening inning since June 27 (12 games).

Rodrigo Lopez retired the Pirates in order in the bottom of the first on 12 pitches, eight for strikes.

The Cubs had a chance to add on in the second after Marlon Byrd reached on a one-out single. Byrd then swiped second on a 1-2 pitch to Soriano … but Soriano struck out swinging. Barney did his job and took what the Pirates gave him, a walk. Lopez tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

Lopez wiggled his way in and out of two jams in the bottom of the second. McCutchen walked to start the inning but was erased on a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Neil Walker. Lyle Overbay lined a single into right and former Cubs farmhand, Josh Harrison doubled down the right field line. Fukudome cut the ball off from rolling to the wall, which kept Overbay from scoring.

Kosuke Fukudome made a tremendous diving catch running toward the infield to take away a couple of RBI from Michael McKenry … and a possible big inning from the Pirates.

The Cubs put two on in the third against McDonald but came away empty again. Ramirez stayed hot and reached on a two-out bloop single to right … two pitches and two hits for Ramirez in his first two at bats. Carlos Pena then worked a walk after being behind in the count 1-2. Soto flied out to the track in right center to end the inning.

The Pirates finally got on the board in the bottom of the third … and scored two runs on an infield single.

Alex Presley singled off Lopez’s glove with one out and advanced to third on a double to right (first pitch) by Chase d’Arnaud. With runners on second and third with one out, Garrett Jones popped out to Barney on a 2-2 pitch. Lopez hit Andrew McCutchen to load the bases.

Neil Walker chopped a 0-1 pitch back up the middle. Barney made a good play, got to the ball and made a leaping throw to first. Walker touched the bag a split second before the ball got to Pena and the two young, speedy Pirates scored on the play … 2-1 Bucs. Overbay flied out to center to end the inning.

James McDonald faced the minimum in the top of the fourth (Barney, 6-4-3 double play) and Lopez retired Pittsburgh in order in the bottom of the inning. At the end of four, Lopez had thrown 62 pitches, 42 for strikes.

The Cubs went down in order in the top of the fifth and Lopez faced the minimum in the bottom of the fifth after Chase d’Arnaud grounded into a 6-4-3 double play and Garrett Jones flied out to left to end the inning.

Aramis Ramirez stepped in for the third time in the sixth inning … and for the third time he reached base after seeing only one pitch. McDonald hit Ramirez in the elbow on a breaking ball that got away. Ramirez put his arm up to block the pitch that was heading toward his face. McDonald retired Pena and struck out Geovany Soto but Marlon Byrd hit a double down the left field line. Ramirez held at third with two outs.

Clint Hurdle went to his pen and brought in Chris Resop to face Alfonso Soriano.

The Bucs’ right hander jumped out in front of Soriano 0-2 but instead of throwing a breaking ball in the dirt, Resop challenged Soriano with a fastball … Soriano ripped the pitch into left center and drove in Ramirez and Byrd with his 12th double of the season.

Darwin Barney reached on an infield single to keep the inning going … but Lopez struck out swinging to end the inning. Lopez was given a 3-2 lead, but it did not last long.

Andrew McCutchen tied the game at three with a long homer to center to start the bottom of the sixth. To Lopez’s credit he settled down and struck out both Neil Walker and Lyle Overbay. Harrison reached on an infield single but McKenry flied out to center to end the inning.

The Cubs ran themselves out of a possible run scoring inning in the seventh. Fukudome led off with a single to right on a 3-1 pitch. With Castro at the plate, Fukudome broke for second on a 0-1 pitch. Fukudome was thrown out and Castro ripped a single into center two pitches later. Ramirez flied out to right center and Hurdle brought in lefty Tony Watson to face Pena. Pena grounded out to second (in the shift) to end the inning.

James Russell started the seventh and gave up a bloop single to Xavier Paul to start the inning. Alex Presley sacrificed him into scoring position with one out. Quade went to his pen and brought in Kerry Wood to face Chase d’Arnaud.

Wood threw one pitch … and got two outs. The Pirates’ rookie shortstop hit a weak liner into left that Paul misread. Soriano caught the ball and doubled off Paul to end the inning.

Marlon Byrd put together an excellent at bat that resulted in a one-out walk against Jose Veras in in the top of the eighth. Alfonso Soriano just missed hitting a homer to right on a 2-1 pitch. Soriano had to settle for a double off the wall in right. Byrd held at third with one out.

Clint Hurdle brought his infield in as Barney stepped to the plate.

Darwin Barney singled to left on a 3-1 pitch and plated Byrd with the go ahead run … 4-3 Cubs. Blake DeWitt hit for Wood and struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch. Kosuke worked a walk to load the bases with two outs … and Hurdle went to his pen for Daniel McCutchen.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Starlin Castro flied out to left to end the inning (1-2 pitch).

Sean Marshall took over in the bottom of the eighth and walked pinch hitter Matt Diaz to start the inning. Pedro Ciriaco ran for Diaz and held when Andrew McCutchen popped out to shallow right. Neil Walker hit a 1-2 pitch to Barney who threw to Castro to force Ciriaco but Castro’s throw sailed and Walker reached to keep the inning going.

Lyle Overbay singled to left and chased Marshall from the game.

Josh Harrison reached down and lined Carlos Marmol’s first pitch into center. Walker scored and tied the game at four on the fifth big league RBI by Josh Harrison.

Michael McKenry stepped in with two out and two on and ended up launching Marmol’s eighth pitch over the wall in left and gave the Pirates a 7-4 lead. McKenry’s blast was his first big league homer.

Joel Hanrahan retired the Cubs in order in the ninth … his 26th save in 26 chances.

And the Cubs just keep giving ballgames away …

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster versus Kevin Correia in game two on Saturday night.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax