Cubs Out at Home – Cubs 1, Pirates 2

Game One Hundred Fifty-Seven – Cubs 1, Pirates 2

WP – Mark Melancon (3-2, BS 5) LP – Kevin Gregg (2-6) Save – Jason Grilli (32)

The Cubs battled back and tied the game at one in the eighth on a pinch-hit RBI single by Donnie Murphy but Kevin Gregg hung a slider to Starling Marte in the ninth and the Pirates beat the Cubs for the 11th time in 17 games on Monday night.

The Cubs looked like they might tie the game in the ninth when Ryan Sweeney (1-for-3 with a walk) laced a two-out single into right center. Nate Schierholtz (0-for-4) rounded second and headed for third but when Marlon Byrd bobbled the ball in right center, David Bell waived Schierholtz in. Andrew McCutchen picked the ball up and threw toward the plate. Justin Morneau caught the ball in front of the mound and threw toward the plate. Russell Martin caught the ball as Schierholtz barreled in. Martin applied the tag and held on to end the game.

The Pirates clinched a playoff spot shortly after defeating the Cubs on Monday night when the Cardinals beat the Nationals. The Pirates, Reds and Cardinals are all in the post-season and will jockey for position over the last five games of the season.

Jeff Samardzija had a good outing. Samardzija made only one mistake in six innings and that came to the second batter of the game when Neil Walker hit a solo home run. The Pirates made very little solid contact against Samardzija and he had good command. Samardzija was charged with one run on five hits. Samardzija issued four walks, one intentional, uncorked a wild pitch and struck out seven batters on 94 pitches, 58 for strikes.

Carlos Villanueva and Hector Rondon were excellent in the seventh and eighth innings, but Kevin Gregg gave up a solo homer to Starling Marte with two outs in the ninth that was the difference in the game.

The Cubs offense was a no-show over the first seven innings. The Cubs managed just three hits off Charlie Morton and put only one man in scoring position when Morton was on the hill. Brian Bogusevic (2-for-3 with a double and a run scored) led off the eighth with a single off Mark Melancon and scored the Cubs only run on a pinch-hit single by Donnie Murphy (1-for-1 with a RBI).

The Cubs managed six hits, two walks, hit into two double plays and went 1-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Starlin Castro (1-for-4) and Dioner Navarro (1-for-3 with a walk) collected the Cubs’ other two hits.

With Monday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 65-92 on the season with five games left to play.

Jeff Samardzija retired Jose Tabata on a grounder to short (1-2 pitch) for the first out in the game. Starlin Castro made an excellent play to get the out. Castro charged the ball and threw out the speedy Tabata. Neil Walker stepped in and lined a 1-1 pitch into the bleachers in left. Five minutes into the game, the Pirates had a 1-0 lead. Andrew McCutchen followed with a single to left (2-1 pitch). Morneau flied out to right for the second out. A 0-1 pitch to Byrd skipped past Navarro. McCutchen took second but was stranded when Byrd grounded out to second for the third out. Samardzija threw 16 pitches in the first inning, 10 for strikes.

The Cubs went down in order on just eight pitches, five for strikes, in the first inning.

Samardzija had to work to get through the second inning without allowing the Pirates to tack on. Samardzija caught Alvarez looking at a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Samardzija jumped ahead of Russell Martin 1-2 before losing him and issuing his first walk of the game. Jordy Mercer smoked Samardzija’s first pitch toward third. The ball ate up Valbuena, went off his glove and into left field. Martin ended up at third and Mercer at first on E5. Charlie Morton bunted a 1-0 pitch back to the mound. Samardzija picked up the ball and flipped to Navarro. Martin tried to stop and retreat toward third, but Navarro tagged him out. Tabata grounded a 2-1 pitch toward short that Castro gobbled up and flipped to Barney to end the inning. Samardzija needed 36 pitches, 21 for strikes, to complete two innings on Monday night.

The Cubs wasted a chance to tie the game in the second. Charlie Morton made quick work of Navarro (flyout to left center) and Schierholtz (grounder to short) for the first two outs. Ryan Sweeney worked a walk. Brian Bogusevic pulled a 0-1 pitch into the right field corner. Sweeney held at third on Bogusevic’s two-out double. Darwin Barney worked a 3-1 count before lining out to left to end the inning. Morton threw only 24 pitches, 13 for strikes, over the first two innings.

Both Samardzija and Morton set down the side in order in the third. Samardzija threw 43 pitches, 26 for strikes, in three innings while it took Morton 32 pitches, 20 for strikes, to record nine outs on Monday.

The Pirates were not able to add to their lead in the fourth. Pedro Alvarez singled to center (2-2 pitch) with one down. Martin rolled a 2-0 pitch toward third. Valbuena fielded the ball, had no shot at Alvarez and threw out Martin at first for the second out. Samardzija intentionally walked Jordy Mercer then caught Morton looking at a 0-2 pitch to end the inning. Samardzija threw 61 pitches, 36 for strikes, over his first four innings and the Pirates were 0-for-4 with RISP and left five men on base.

Nothing doing for the Cubs in the bottom of the fourth … Charlie Morton was at the top of his game. Morton recorded eight groundball outs over the first four frames and threw 47 pitches, 30 for strikes.

Jeff Samardzija pitched his way in and out of a jam in the fifth. Samardzija struck out Tabata (swinging) and Walker (looking) to start the fifth. Samardzija jumped ahead of McCutchen 1-2, but lost him and issued a two-out walk. A passed ball with Morneau at the plate allowed McCutchen to move up ninety feet. Samardzija walked Morneau and put two on with two down for Byrd. But the always overly aggressive Marlon Byrd grounded the first pitch he saw to Castro to end the inning.

Charlie Morton struck out three of the four batters he faced in the fifth. Morton plunked Barney in the back with a 0-2 pitch with two outs before catching Samardzija looking at a 1-2 pitch for the third out … 69 pitches for Morton after five, 46 for strikes.

The Pirates put two on in the sixth but Samardzija was able to keep them from adding on. After Alvarez grounded out to Barney for the first out, Russell Martin singled to left center. Samardzija struck out Mercer swinging on three pitches for the second out. Charlie Morton singled to center (0-2 pitch). With runners on first and second with two down, Samardzija struck out Tabata swinging to end the inning. Samardzija threw 94 pitches, 58 for strikes, in six innings … and the Pirates were 0-for-6 with RISP and left nine men on base in their first six at bats.

Starlin Castro reached on an infield single to start the sixth, just the Cubs’ second hit of the game. Valbuena chopped a 3-1 pitch toward first. He thought the ball was foul, replays showed it was, but Morneau started a 3-6 double play. Rizzo grounded out to first for the third out.

Carlos Villanueva replaced Samardzija for the seventh and set down the Pirates in order on eight pitches.

Dioner Navarro led off the seventh with a single to left center. After Morton struck out Schierholtz swinging, Sweeney pulled a 0-1 pitch toward second. Walker fielded the ball, ran Navarro back toward first, tossed to Morneau to get the out. Morneau then fired to Mercer, who tagged Navarro to end the inning (4-3-6).

Hector Rondon retired the side in order in the eighth and the game went to the bottom of the eighth with the Cubs down 1-0.

Mark Melancon replaced Morton for the eighth inning. Brian Bogusevic singled to center. Sveum called for a hit and run on a 1-0 pitch to Barney. Barney bounced the ball back up the middle. Melancon knocked the ball down, had no play on Bogusevic and got the out at first. Donnie Murphy hit for Rondon with one out and a man on second. A 1-1 pitch to Murphy got past Martin, Bogusevic moved up to third and Clint Hurdle brought in his infield.

Donnie Murphy pulled a 3-2 pitch past a diving Alvarez and into left field. Bogusevic scored and tied the game at one. Castro flied out to center and Valbuena struck out swinging to end the inning.

The game went to the ninth all tied at one.

Kevin Gregg started the ninth and struck out both Clint Barmes and pinch-hitter Travis Snider. Starling Marte stepped in and launched a 2-1 hanging slider into the bleachers in left and gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Gregg struck out Walker to end the inning. But the damage was done … and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs down 2-1.

Tony Watson started the ninth and retired Rizzo on a grounder down the third baseline. Clint Hurdle went to his pen for Jason Grilli.

Dioner Navarro walked and Sveum sent in Logan Watkins to run at first. Grilli jammed Schierholtz with a 0-2 pitch and shattered his bat. Morneau fielded the grounder and threw out Watkins at second. Schierholtz took over at first with two down.

Ryan Sweeney pulled a 2-2 pitch into right center. Marlon Byrd misplayed the ball, overran it and David Bell waived Schierholtz around as McCutchen picked up the ball and threw toward the infield. McCutchen missed both cutoff men but Morneau was standing in front of the mound. Morneau threw the ball to Martin as Schierholtz barreled toward the plate. Martin applied the tag and held on to end the game.

Chris Rusin faces Gerrit Cole in the finale night game of the season at Wrigley on Tuesday.

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