Cubs Blanked Again by the Bucs – Cubs 0, Pirates 2

Game Fifty-Eight – Cubs 0, Pirates 2

WP – Francisco Liriano (4-2) LP – Travis Wood (5-4) Save – Jason Grilli (23)

The Cubs kicked off the seven-game homestand with their fourth straight loss to the Pirates. Travis Wood did all he could do to post a win but the offense managed only five hits, all singles, and could not take advantage of five free passes as the Cubs were shut out for the third time in seven games this season by Pirates’ pitching.

Francisco Liriano was effectively wild and issued more walks than hits. Travis Wood (1-for-2) broke up Liriano’s not hit bid with a single in the fifth inning. The Cubs allowed Liriano to shut them down for the second time this season. The Cubs’ offense managed just two hits off Liriano while working five walks and striking out eight times over seven innings.

For as bad as the offense was on Friday the Cubs put the tying runs on base with two outs in the ninth on back-to-back singles by Ryan Sweeney and Dioner Navarro. But Darwin Barney struck out swinging to end the game.

The Cubs went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base in a two-run loss in their home park.

It is not too often a starting pitcher is hung with a loss in a game in which his ERA drops (2.75 before, 2.65 after) but that is exactly what happened to Travis Wood on Friday. Wood notched his 11 quality start in 12 opportunities this season and made only one mistake in six innings … and it ended up costing him the game. Russell Martin doubled in Jordy Mercer after a long at bat by Gaby Sanchez ended with a walk and extended the inning.

Travis Wood allowed one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Wood battled through early command problems and ended up throwing 103 pitches, 64 for strikes.

The Pirates second run scored in the ninth off Carlos Villanueva after Luis Valbuena failed to throw home instead opting to try for an around the horn inning ending double play that the defense was not in position to turn.

With Friday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 6-17 in the division and back to 10 games under .500 (24-34) for the season.

On a rather cool day (55 degrees) at Wrigley with the wind blowing in, Travis Wood and Francisco Liriano locked in a pitcher’s duel for the entire afternoon. While both pitchers labored at times, the game remained scoreless until the sixth inning.

Travis Wood, making his first start in eight days, threw 77 pitches, 50 for strikes, over the first five innings and retired 10 batters in a row prior to the sixth inning.

Starling Marte grounded out to third (3-2 pitch) to start the sixth. Jordy Mercer followed and pulled a 0-1 pitch down the left field line. Mercer ended up a second with a one out double. Andrew McCutchen flied out to right (3-2 pitch) for the second out. Mercer tagged and advanced to third with two outs.

Gaby Sanchez fell behind 0-2 before working a full count and walking on the eighth pitch of the at bat.

With runners on first and third with two down, Russell Martin pulled the first pitch into left for a double. Mercer scored easily and Sanchez ended up a third with two down. Wood retired Pedro Alvarez on a pop out to left center to end the inning.

Welington Castillo recorded the Cubs second hit in the bottom of the sixth, a two-out single. But that was all and at the end of six complete, the Cubs trailed 1-0.

The game remained 1-0 until the ninth. Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect seventh and Carlos Villanueva kept the Pirates off the board in the eighth despite several loud outs.

Carlos Villanueva stayed in for the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to Russell Martin. Villanueva fell behind Alvarez 3-1. Pedro Alvarez pulled Villanueva’s next pitch into right. Martin went to third on the single and the Cubs were in trouble. Villanueva struck out Neil Walker swinging for the first out.

Travis Snider stepped in with runners on first and third with one down. Snider drove a 2-2 pitch toward third. Valbuena fielded the ball and instead of going home, Valbuena threw to second. Barney was played for Snider to pull the ball and the Cubs were not able to turn the inning ending double play. Martin scored, 2-0 Pirates. Garrett Jones followed with a single and Villanueva hit Marte to load the bases. Villanueva retired Mercer on a grounder to third to end the inning.

The Cubs could not capitalize on back-to-back two out singles by Ryan Sweeney and Dioner Navarro in the ninth. Jason Grilli struck out Darwin Barney swinging (1-2 pitch) on the seventh pitch of the at bat to end the game.

Jeff Samardzija faces A.J. Burnett in the second game against the Pirates on Saturday afternoon.

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon