Cubs Wrap-Up Wrigley with a ‘W’ – Cubs 4, Pirates 2

Game One Hundred Fifty-Nine – Cubs 4, Pirates 2

WP – Jake Arrieta (4-2) LP – Francisco Liriano (16-8) Save – Kevin Gregg (33)

wflag-pubJake Arrieta notched a quality start in his last outing of the year and Darnell McDonald smacked a three-run homer off Francisco Liriano in the sixth inning as the Cubs beat the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon in the final game of the season at Wrigley Field. The Cubs finished the year with a 31-50 mark at home and showed their appreciation to the fan base by tipping to their caps those on hand to watch the final out of the year at the old ballyard.

Jake Arrieta was very good once again and will spend the off-season slotted into the Cubs’ rotation plans for next year. Arrieta walked in the only run he allowed during a laborious third inning. Arrieta pitched around defensive miscues and limited the Pirates to one run on four hits in six innings. Arrieta walked two, hit a batter and struck out one on 84 pitches, 54 for strikes. Arrieta pitched his way out of jams in every inning but the second and Donnie Murphy helped bail him out of a runner on third and no outs in the fourth that kept the game tied at one.

Justin Grimm was lights out in the seventh and Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless eighth. Kevin Gregg allowed an unearned run in the ninth when Jose Tabata tripled in pinch-runner Felix Pie with the Pirates’ second run.

Darnell McDonald (3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI) had a huge day at the plate. McDonald broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with his first home run in a Cubs’ uniform, a three-run shot to the bleachers in left center. McDonald doubled in his first two at bats, did not score either time and made up for a baserunning gaffe in the fourth with his three-run dinger.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a RBI and a walk) singled in Darwin Barney (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) in the first inning. A day after managing 10 singles, five of the Cubs nine hits went for extra bases.

Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a double) had a good day at the plate, but not in the field. Castro was charged with two errors and the second one made things interesting in the ninth and led to the Pirates’ second run.

The Cubs finished the year at Wrigley with a 31-50 record and ended up winning seven of the 19 games against the Pirates (7-12). The Cubs finished their last homestand of the season with a 2-4 record versus the Braves and Pirates.

With Wednesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 66-93 on the season with three games left to play.

Starling Marte led off the game with a single to right and swiped second with Neil Walker at the plate. But J.C. Boscan caught a bunt attempt by Walker in foul ground, McCutchen flied out to shallow right and Morneau hit a liner up the middle that Castro knocked down and threw him out at first to end the inning. Arrieta threw eight pitches in the first inning, seven for strikes, and kept the Pirates off the board.

After Starlin Castro struck out swinging, Darwin Barney singled to center and took second when McCutchen bobbled the ball. Barney was given a double and scored when Anthony Rizzo ripped a single into right field. Murphy grounded out to first, Rizzo was forced at second and Murphy took over at first base. Junior Lake was caught looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. The Cubs made Liriano work and it took him 24 pitches, 16 for strikes, to get through the first inning.

After one inning, the Cubs led 1-0.

Jake Arrieta retired the next eight batters he faced and needed only 18 pitches, 14 for strikes, to complete two innings. The Cubs could not cash in a leadoff double by Darnell McDonald in the second inning and the game went to the third with the Cubs up by a run.

Arrieta made quick work of Clint Barmes and Francisco Liriano to start the third. Starling Marte singled to right with two outs, swiped second with Walker at the dish and advanced to third when Walker reached on a swinging bunt to third. Arrieta walked Andrew McCutchen to load the bases.

Arrieta did not get the call on a 2-2 pitch to Morneau and ended up walking him to force in Marte with the tying run. Garrett Jones grounded out to second to end the inning. Arrieta escaped further damage and needed 25 pitches to get through the third inning (43 pitches after three, 28 for strikes).

The Cubs were not able to break the tie in the third after Barney reached on a single to left with one out. A wild pitch with Rizzo at the plate allowed Barney to move up ninety feet. Rizzo smashed a 3-1 pitch back up the middle and off Liriano’s leg. With runners on first and third with one down, Liriano struck out Murphy swinging (3-2 pitch). Rizzo took second and was credited with a stolen base. With Barney at third, Rizzo on second and two outs, Junior Lake popped out to Walker in shallow right for the third out. Liriano escaped the jam but needed 66 pitches, 41 for strikes, to record nine outs.

Pedro Alvarez led off the fourth with a triple to left center. Alvarez smoked a ball past Castro into left center that Lake did not get back into the infield quick enough. Alvarez ended up a third on E6. With the infield in, Sanchez popped out to Castro in shallow center. Clint Barmes smoked a 1-2 pitch toward third. Murphy caught the liner then dove toward third. Murphy tagged the bag with his glove to complete the double play and end the inning. Arrieta threw 53 pitches in four innings, 34 for strikes, and the Cubs ran themselves out of a possible run in the home half.

Darnell McDonald doubled to left center to start the fourth but tried to move up to third when Sweeney rolled a 3-0 pitch out to short. Barmes threw out McDonald and both Boscan and Arrieta struck out swinging to end the inning … 81 pitches for Liriano after four innings, 51 for strikes.

Arrieta retired Liriano on a pop out to third for the first out in the fifth. Starling Marte fell behind 0-2 before Arrieta plunked him with a 1-2 pitch. Marte stole second with McCutchen at the plate after Walker flied out to left. Arrieta jammed McCutchen with a 3-2 pitch and he tapped back to the mound to end the inning. Arrieta threw 67 pitches, 41 for strikes, in five innings.

The Cubs did nothing in the fifth and the game went to the sixth still tied at one.

Justin Morneau led off the sixth with a double to left. Junior Lake tried to make a diving catch, came up short then airmailed his throw to second. Morneau was given a double then moved up to third when Jones grounded out to Rizzo. With the infield in, Alvarez grounded out to Rizzo for the second out. Morneau held and was stranded when Arrieta caught Tony Sanchez looking at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Donnie Murphy led off the sixth with a single to left. Murphy stole second with Lake at the plate. Junior Lake then walked and put runners on first and second with no outs.

Darnell McDonald pulled a 2-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center … and just like that the Cubs took a 4-1 lead. Sweeney followed and grounded out to first. Liriano hit Boscan but Nate Schierholtz, hitting for Arrieta, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

The Cubs took a 4-1 lead into the seventh.

Justin Grimm retired the side in order in the seventh and Starlin Castro just missed a homer to center in the home half. Castro led off the seventh and launched a 1-0 pitch to deep center off Bryan Morris. The ball hit off the ivy, just missed leaving the park, and he settled for a double. Barney grounded out to first. Morris intentionally walked Rizzo and put two on with one down for Murphy. Morris struck out Murphy swinging. A wild pitch with Lake at the plate allowed Castro and Rizzo to move up ninety feet. But Lake grounded out to third to end the inning.

Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless eighth and the Cubs could not add on in the eighth against Jeanmar Gomez.

Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs up by three runs.

Gregg struck out Pedro Alvarez swinging for the first out in the ninth. Tony Sanchez pulled a 2-1 pitch toward the hole at short. Castro got to the ball, did not field it cleanly and Sanchez reached. Clint Hurdle sent in Felix Pie to run at first. Jose Tabata hit for Clint Barmes and drove a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right center. Pie scored easily and Tabata ended up at third with a triple.

Marlon Byrd hit for Gomez and stepped in representing the tying run. Gregg struck out Byrd swinging then caught Starling Marte looking at a 0-2 pitch to end the game.

The Cubs will spend their final off day of the year in St. Louis on Thursday. The Cubs open a three-game series on Friday with the Cardinals. Travis Wood faces Lance Lynn in the opener with the champagne on ice in the Redbirds’ clubhouse.

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Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne