Rizzo, Bogusevic and the Cubs Play Spoiler in Pittsburgh – Cubs 5, Pirates 4

Game One Hundred Forty-Seven – Cubs 5, Pirates 4

WP – Carlos Villanueva (6-8) LP – Jason Grilli (0-2, BS 2) Save – Kevin Gregg (32)

wflag-pubAnthony Rizzo launched a two-run homer off of Jason Grilli in the seventh, the bullpen tossed 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball and the Cubs battled back and beat the Pirates on Friday night.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead against Charlie Morton. Darwin Barney (0-for-4 with a RBI) put the Cubs on the board in the second inning with a grounder to short that plated Nate Schierholtz (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored). Brian Bogusevic (3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI) gave Jake Arrieta a three-run lead in the fourth with his fifth longball of the season, a two-run shot with Dioner Navarro (2-for-5 with a run scored) on board.

But the Pirates hit back-to-back-to-back home runs off Jake Arrieta in the fourth that tied the game at three. Pedro Alvarez hit an inside the park home run, then both Russell Martin and Garrett Jones left the yard and in a span of just four pitches, the game was tied at three. The Pirates went back-to-back-to-back for the first time since 2003 (August 20 in St. Louis) and Friday was the first time a Pirates’ team hit home runs in three consecutive at bats in Pittsburgh since 1955.

The Pirates took the lead in the sixth on an error by Brooks Raley and it looked like the Cubs were on their way to another loss.

Luis Valbuena (0-for-3 with two walks and a run scored) put together an excellent at bat, took a few close pitches and worked a two-out walk against Jason Grilli in the seventh that kept the inning going for Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI).

Anthony Rizzo pulled a 1-0 pitch from Grilli down the line in right and the only question was would the ball stay fair. The ball left the park and nearly ended up in the Allegheny River. Rizzo’s 22nd longball of the season, off his former Team Italy teammate, ended up being the difference in the game.

Jake Arrieta had better command on Friday night than in his previous outing but he had trouble putting batters away. Arrieta threw 85 pitches over five-plus innings but 21 of those were used to record two outs, Charlie Morton (11) in the third and Justin Morneau (10) in the fourth. Morneau’s ten-pitch at bat seemed to get the best of Arrieta because three of his next four pitches went for home runs. Arrieta was charged with four runs, three earned, on six hits with a walk and six strikeouts in five-plus innings. Arrieta threw 85 pitches, 60 for strikes.

Brooks Raley replaced Arrieta and his error allowed the Pirates to take the lead in the sixth. Raley was effective but his inability to field his position cost his team a run.

Carlos Villanueva closed out the seventh and kept it a one-run game.

Justin Grimm and Pedro Stop were not perfect in the seventh and eighth innings but the two power pitchers did their jobs and kept the Pirates off the board. Kevin Gregg picked up the save by retiring three of the four batters he faced in the ninth.

With Friday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 63-84 on the season and avoided the 100-loss mark.

Luis Valbuena worked a one out walk in the first inning after Castro struck out swinging to start the game. Anthony Rizzo flied out to deep center and Navarro went down swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.

Jake Arrieta worked his way out of a jam in the first inning after issuing a leadoff walk to Jose Tabata. Walker flied out to deep right center for the first out. Andrew McCutchen followed with a single to left (1-0 pitch) and the Bucs had runners on first and second with one down. Arrieta struck out Justin Morneau swinging. But Navarro lost the ball and his fourth passed ball of the season allowed Tabata and McCutchen to move up ninety feet. Pedro Alvarez grounded out to Rizzo for the third out. Arrieta threw 16 pitches, 10 for strikes, in the first inning.

Nate Schierholtz walked to start the second inning. For some reason, Ryan Sweeney dropped down a bunt as Schierholtz took off for second base. Sweeney bunted back to the mound and was thrown out at first as Schierholtz advanced into scoring position. Brian Bogusevic lifted a 1-2 pitch into left. Tabata attempted a diving catch, came up short and the Cubs had runners on the corners with one down. Darwin Barney dribbled a 2-1 pitch toward short. Barmes fielded and flipped to Walker to force Bogusevic but Barney beat Walker’s throw , Schierholtz scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Arrieta struck out swinging to end the inning. The Cubs made Morton work over the first two frames, 41 pitches, 25 for strikes.

Jake Arrieta made quick work of the Pirates in the second … 1-2-3 on 10 pitches. Arrieta threw 26 pitches, 17 for strikes, over his first two innings.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead into the third. Morton retired the side in order in the third. Morton needed 51 pitches, 32 for strikes, in his first three innings of work.

It took 11 pitches for Arrieta to retire Charlie Morton on a comebacker to the mound to start the third inning. Arrieta struck out Tabata and Walker to end the third. Arrieta needed 47 pitches, 32 for strikes, to complete three innings on Friday night.

The Cubs added onto their lead in the fourth. Dioner Navarro led off with a single off the wall in right. Schierholtz struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the first out. Ryan Sweeney flied out to deep center for the second out.

Brian Bogusevic crushed Morton’s first pitch. The ball landed on the ‘S’ in the ‘Pirates’ shrubs beyond the centerfield wall and Bogusevic’s fifth longball of the year put the Cubs up 3-0. Darwin Barney flied out to right to end the inning. Morton needed 70 pitches, 44 for strikes, to complete four innings.

Jake Arrieta took the hill in the fourth with a 3-0 lead, that quickly disappeared. McCutchen lined out to Castro on Arrieta’s first pitch of the inning. Morneau worked a 10-pitch at bat that ended with a tapper back to Arrieta for the second out.

Pedro Alvarez pulled a 2-1 pitch to deep right center. The ball hit off the top of the wall, rolled away from Sweeney and Alvarez circled the bases. Alvarez put the Pirates on the board with an inside the park home run. Russell Martin launched Arrieta’s first pitch into the stands beyond the left field wall and cut the Cubs lead to 3-2. Then Garrett Jones lined a 0-1 pitch from Arrieta over the wall in center … the Pirates went back-to-back-to-back for the first time in over 10 years (August 2003) and tied the game at three. Arrieta struck out Clint Barmes swinging to end the inning.

After the dust settled, replays showed that a fan interfered with Alvarez’s deep drive. The fan touched the ball and changed its direction. The misdirection allowed the ball to roll away and gave Alvarez a chance to round the bases.

Jake Arrieta threw 73 pitches, 51 for strikes, over four innings and at the end of four, the game was tied at three.

The Cubs kept pounding the ball in the fifth inning. Starlin Castro singled to left (1-2 pitch) with one out. Luis Valbuena launched a 2-0 offering from Morton to deep center that McCutchen tracked down for the second out. And Anthony Rizzo drove a 3-2 pitch down the left field line that Tabata caught just before the hitting the wall to end the inning. Charlie Morton was not missing any bats and threw 93 pitches, 58 for strikes, in five innings.

Jake Arrieta faced the minimum in the fifth after Tabata reached on a single to right with one out. Neil Walker flied out to right and Schierholtz doubled off Tabata at first to end the inning … 82 pitches, 57 for strikes, for Arrieta after five frames.

The Cubs had a chance to break the three-all tie in the sixth against lefty Justin Watson, but came away empty. Ryan Sweeney singled to center (3-2 pitch) with two outs and advanced to third when Brian Bogusevic collected his third hit of the game, a single to right center. Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

Jake Arrieta started the sixth and surrendered a double to Andrew McCutchen on a 0-2 pitch. Sweeney misplayed the ball but Arrieta should have not given McCutchen a pitch he could drive. Dale Sveum made the slow walk and went to his pen for Brooks Raley.

Morneau popped out to Raley (1-0 pitch) for the first out. Pedro Alvarez pulled a 1-1 pitch toward first. Rizzo fielded the ball as McCutchen advanced to third. Rizzo underhanded the ball to Raley, and he dropped the ball … then kicked it. McCutchen scored, 4-3 Pirates. Martin grounded out to third, Alvarez advanced to second and as soon as Marlon Byrd was announced as the pinch-hitter for Garrett Jones, Sveum went to his pen for Carlos Villanueva.

Byrd reached on an infield single to Castro, his second infield single of the series. Castro tried to barehand the slow roller but could not field the ball cleanly. With runners on the corners and two down, Travis Snider hit for Clint Barmes and lined out to center for the third out.

The game went to the seventh with the Cubs down 4-3.

Jason Grilli started the seventh and struck out Junior Lake (looking) and Starlin Castro (swinging) for the first two outs. Luis Valbuena took a couple of close pitches and worked a walk.

Anthony Rizzo did not miss the second pitch of the at bat. Rizzo crushed a 1-0 pitch from Grilli, the only question was would it stay fair.  The ball left the park and almost ended up in the Allegheny River. Rizzo’s two-run shot, hit 22nd of the season, put the Cubs up 5-4. Navarro followed with a single to center and Clint Hurdle made the slow walk and brought in Vin Mazarro to face Nate Schierholtz.

Navarro advanced to second on a wild pitch but was stranded when Schierholtz lined out to Byrd in right to end the inning.

Justin Grimm took the hill for the seventh and retired three of the four batters he faced. Grimm issued a four-pitch free pass to Walker with two out but jammed McCutchen with a 2-1 offering and he fouled out to Navarro to end the inning.

The Cubs could not take advantage of an error by Jordy Mercer in the eighth that allowed Bogusevic to reach for the fourth time on Friday and Pedro Strop replaced Grimm for the bottom of the eighth. Strop gave up a one out single to Pedro Alvarez but that was all and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 5-4.

Anthony Rizzo collected his second hit in as many at bats in the ninth off of Kyle Farnsworth. But Navarro tapped back to Farnsworth to end the inning and the game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs clinging to a one-run lead.

Kevin Gregg retired pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez (pop out to short) and Jordy Mercer (tap back to the mound) on three pitches to start the inning. Jose Tabata reached on an infield single. With Starling Marte at first running for Tabata, Neil Walker flied out to Ryan Sweeney at the wall in center to end the game.

Scott Baker is scheduled to face Gerrit Cole on Saturday night.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth