Cubs Keep Pestering the Pirates – Cubs 7, Pirates 4

Game One Hundred Forty-Four – Cubs 7, Pirates 4
WP – Chris Rusin (1-2) LP – James McDonald (12-8) Save – Carlos Marmol (20)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs posted their sixth win in seven games on Friday afternoon behind a solid outing from Chris Rusin and six RBI from the two youngest players on the roster.

Starlin Castro (2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI) and Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a double and two RBI) stepped up and led their team to its fourth straight victory over the Pirates. Castro drove in four of the Cubs’ seven runs with a pair of two-out hits. Castro plated Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a double, two walks and three runs scored) with the first run of the game, a single to right center in the third inning. After the Pirates cut the Cubs lead to 4-3 in the top of the sixth, Starlin Castro stepped up again and delivered a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth. For the season, Castro has hit 13 longballs and driven in 75 runs … both career highs (.281/.319/.429/.748).

Anthony Rizzo turned a 1-0 Cubs lead in the fourth inning into a 3-0 advantage with a two-out, two-run double with the bases loaded off lefty Justin Wilson … and Alfonso Soriano (1-for-4 with a RBI, HBP and a run scored) singled in Luis Valbuena with a two-out infield hit in the fourth.

Darwin Barney (2-for-2 with a double, a walk, a run scored and a sac bunt) did not commit an error for the 129th straight ballgame … and he ran his hitting streak to a career-high nine games with his two-hit afternoon.

The Cubs drove in all seven runs in Friday’s game with two-out hits and took advantage of the five walks and a hit batsman by Pirates’ pitching. Of the five walks, four scored and Alfonso Soriano, who was hit by a Jared Hughes pitch in the sixth inning, trotted home on Starlin Castro’s three-run shot. The Cubs scored seven runs on nine hits with five walks and a hit batsman on Friday afternoon … and finished the game 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine on base.

Chris Rusin (two runs on four hits with a walk, a HBP and six strikeouts in five-plus innings) picked up his first Major League victory with a solid five-plus inning effort on Friday afternoon. Rusin did not allow a hit until the fifth inning and only two runners reached (hit by pitch and an error) in the first four frames. Rusin pounded the strike zone and pitched ahead in the count for a majority of his outing. Rusin allowed only one run while he was on the hill and threw 78 pitches, 56 for strikes.

Jaye Chapman (one run on two hits with a walk in a third of an inning) surrendered his first run and allowed an inherited run to score in the sixth. James Russell pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the sixth with the Cubs clinging to a 4-3 lead. Russell struck out pinch-hitter Neil Walker swinging to end the inning. Manny Corpas (one run on two hits in two-thirds of an inning) served up a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen in the seventh and Shawn Camp retired all three batters he faced in the eighth.

Carlos Marmol faced the minimum in the ninth in route to his 20th save of the season (19-for-last-19 in save opportunities). Marmol started a 1-6-3 double play that ended the game.

Clint Hurdle (8) and Dale Sveum (6) used a combined 14 pitchers on Friday afternoon.

With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 57-87 on the season …

Chris Rusin retired the side in order in the first on 12 pitches, nine for strikes.

David DeJesus led off the first for the Cubs with a double to right. Luis Valbuena flied out to center for the second out. Anthony Rizzo then walked on four pitches and the Cubs’ had runners on first and second with one out. Alfonso Soriano flied out to right (3-2 pitch) and Starlin Castro popped out to Clint Barmes (0-1 pitch) to end the inning. James McDonald threw 18 pitches, nine for strikes, in the first inning.

Chris Rusin made quick work of the Pirates in the second … 1-2-3 on nine pitches (21 pitches after two frames, 16 for strikes).

After Steve Clevenger (flyout to left center) and Brett Jackson (fly out to left) made the first two outs in the second, Darwin Barney lined a 1-1 pitch into right … Barney extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games with the two-out base knock. Chris Rusin then singled to right put with runners on first and second with two outs but DeJesus flied out to right to end the inning … 35 pitches for McDonald after two, 19 for strikes.

After two at bats, the Cubs were 0-for-4 with RISP and left four on base.

Pedro Alvarez grounded out to Barney to start the third. Rusin then hit Clint Barmes on a 0-2 pitch. A passed ball allowed Barmes to advance to second but McDonald struck out swinging (2-2 pitch) for the second out … four strikeouts for Rusin the first time through the lineup. Brock Holt grounded out to Rizzo to end the inning. Chris Rusin needed 35 pitches, 26 for strikes, to complete three innings of work.

Luis Valbuena led off the third with a double to right. Anthony Rizzo worked a full count but grounded out to second. Valbuena advanced to third on Rizzo’s productive out. Clint Hurdle brought his infield in with one out and Valbuena at third. McDonald struck out Alfonso Soriano swinging (1-2 pitch) for out number two.

Starlin Castro picked up Soriano with a single into right center (1-1 pitch). Valbuena scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Steve Clevenger flied out to center (3-2 pitch) to end the inning. McDonald threw 59 pitches, 33 for strikes, over the first three innings.

Starling Marte reached on an error by Starlin Castro to start the fourth. Rusin struck out Andrew McCutchen swinging on a 2-2 pitch. With Garrett Jones at the plate, Rusin picked off Marte for the second out (1-3-6). Jones grounded out to Barney to end the inning. Rusin threw 53 pitches, 38 for strikes, over the first four innings … and faced just one over the minimum.

Brett Jackson struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch to start the fourth. Darwin Barney walked (3-1 pitch) but held at first when Rusin lined out to left. David DeJesus and Luis Valbuena worked back-to-back-walks to load the bases with one out. Clint Hurdle decided that was enough for James McDonald and he went to his pen for lefty Justin Wilson.

Anthony Rizzo stepped in and looked at ball one from the southpaw. Rizzo then pulled Wilson’s next pitch into right for a double. Barney and DeJesus scored, 3-0 Cubs, and Hurdle went back to his pen for right-hander Chris Leroux.

With runners on second and third with two out, Alfonso Soriano pulled a 1-1 pitch to the hole at short. Barmes kept the ball in the infield but did not field it cleanly. Valbuena scored and Rizzo held at third on Soriano’s 97th RBI of the season. Starlin Castro tapped back to the mound to end the inning.

After four complete, the Cubs led 4-0.

Gaby Sanchez led off the fifth with the Pirates’ first hit, a double off the wall in left center. Rusin caught Michael McKenry looking (0-2 pitch) for the first out. Pedro Alvarez ripped a single into left that plated Sanchez with the Pirates’ first run. Clint Barmes popped out to Barney but pinch-hitter Jose Tabata ripped a 2-2 pitch into right. Tabata’s first pinch-hit of the season put runners on first and third with two down. Rusin retired Holt on a grounder to first to end the inning … 73 pitches for Rusin after five innings, 53 for strikes.

Kyle McPherson took over for the Pirates in the fifth and retired Clevenger and Jackson quickly to start the inning. Darwin Barney reached on a double to right but Rusin flied out to center for the third out.

After five complete, the Cubs led 4-1.

Chris Rusin stayed in and started the sixth. Starling Marte ripped a 2-2 pitch into left center for a single. With McCutchen due, Dale Sveum went to his pen for Jaye Chapman. Marte swiped second on a 2-1 pitch to McCutchen. Chapman ended up retiring McCutchen on a grounder to third. Marte held at second with one out. Garrett Jones drove a 1-2 pitch toward the hole at short. With Castro in the shift, Valbuena had the only shot at the ball. Valbuena made a diving stop but could not throw Jones out at first.

Gaby Sanchez stepped in with runners on first and third with one out. Sanchez delivered a single into right. Marte scored and cut the Cubs lead to 4-2. Chapman then walked Michael McKenry to load the bases. Sveum made his way to the mound and went to the pen for James Russell.

Pedro Alvarez pulled a 1-2 pitch toward first. Rizzo fielded the ball and stepped on the bag but his throw to the plate was late and Jones scored the Pirates’ third run. With runners on second and third with two out, Clint Barmes popped a 0-1 pitch behind the plate. Clevenger could not locate the ball and Barmes was given a new life. Russell ended up walking Barmes to load the bases.

Neil Walker made his first appearance in 15 games. Walker hit for McPherson with the Cubs up by one, the bases loaded and two down in the sixth. Russell struck out Walker swinging (1-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Lefty Tony Watson started the sixth and caught DeJesus looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Luis Valbuena worked a walk (3-2 pitch). Anthony Rizzo flied out to deep left (2-2 pitch) for the second out. Hurdle went to his pen and brought in Jared Hughes to face Soriano.

Hughes plunked Alfonso Soriano with his first pitch. Starlin Castro then turned on inside fastball from Hughes (first pitch) and launched the ball into the bleachers in left. Castro’s 13th longball of the season put the Cubs up 7-3. Clevenger grounded out to third to end the inning.

After six complete, the Cubs led 7-3.

James Russell retired Brock Holt on a pop out to short for the first out in the seventh. Sveum then went to his pen for Manny Corpas. Corpas retired Marte but Andrew McCutchen drove a 1-2 pitch out to right and cut the Cubs’ lead to 7-4. Garrett Jones followed with a single to right … but Gaby Sanchez grounded out to second to end the inning.

Chad Qualls started the seventh for the Bucs. Brett Jackson reached on a throwing error by Pedro Alvarez. With Jackson at second, Darwin Barney dropped down a bunt and advanced Jackson to third. Bryan LaHair hit for Corpas and tapped a 2-1 pitch back to the mound. Qualls bobbled the ball but recovered in time to flip the ball to McKenry. Jackson broke on the play and McKenry tagged him out. With two down and LaHair at first, DeJesus grounded out to second to end the inning.

After seven, the Cubs led 7-4.

Shawn Camp retired the side in order in the eighth.

Bryan Morris made his big league debut in the bottom of the eighth … and set down the Cubs in order.

The game went to the ninth with the Cubs up by three at 7-4.

Carlos Marmol replaced Camp on the hill and Tony Campana took over in left for Soriano. Marmol hit pinch-hitter Alex Presley to start the inning. Brock Holt popped out to shallow right for the first out. Jeff Clement hit for Starling Marte … and grounded into a 1-6-3 game ending double play.

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Jason Berken is scheduled to face Wandy Rodriguez in his Cubs’ debut on Saturday afternoon.

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  • J Daniel

    Hey Neil or anyone else – what is Castro’s long term spot in the order? I just don’t see it being the 5 hole and don’t understand why he is in it?

    • GaryLeeT

      As a contact hitter with decent speed, I see him as a 2, or 3 if he picks up the power numbers. Castro needs to learn that just because he can put a bat on almost any ball, does not mean he should always do it..

    • brent carmona

      Good question J I would say 2 since he has a great ability to make contact however it could be 5 later on if we find a guy that will get on base more in that spot..if so maybe 5 but ahhh its hard to tell with a guy that young who can develop some power

      • J Daniel

        The reason I ask is that I believe he is a #2 hitter because of the contact. In the long term Castro and Rizzo could become an outstanding 2/3 combo. I don’t believe that he will have the power, although he will have some, to be a 5 hitter. So I wonder why they have him there. This one does not make sense as they should not be jacking around one of the long term pieces?

    • Tony_Hall

      If his OBP doesn’t improve he will not be at the top of the order. He will be a 5/6/7 hitter. And I have to say that I hope to see a lineup that has Castro at 7th, because that will be an extremely good lineup.

      I still see him as a 2 hitter. He has made progress on seeing pitches and trying to work the count and take the walks that are given to him. He has much more work to do to get back to the 2 hole.

  • John_CC

    Well, they sure have played the spoiler to the Buccos this year. As much as I dislike the Reds or the even the thought of the Cards creeping back into it … the Pirates have a history of hurting the Cubs and in this lost season … it’s something. And that’s why they play the games!