Two Big Flies and a Cubs Loss – Cubs 1, Pirates 2

Game One Hundred Forty-Eight – Cubs 1, Pirates 2

WP – Gerrit Cole (8-7) LP – James Russell (1-6) Save – Mark Melancon (15)

The Pirates hit a pair of solo home runs while the Cubs struggled with runners in scoring position again and the Cubs dropped the third game of the series in Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead against Gerrit Cole on a double by Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) in the first inning. But Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a double and a walk) was thrown out at the plate after Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) scored. The Cubs managed only three more hits over the next eight innings and left another victory on base. The Cubs were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded six men on base.

Both of the Pirates’ runs scored on a pair of solo home runs, one from Jose Tabata off of Scott Baker in the sixth that tied the game at one and the other came off the bat of Marlon Byrd in the seventh off of James Russell.

The Cubs did not play poorly on Saturday but did squander multiple scoring chances in what turned out to be a pitchers’ duel at PNC Park.

Scott Baker put together another very good outing. Baker tossed five more shutout innings and did not allow his first run of the season until the sixth, a solo homer to Jose Tabata with one out in the inning. Baker’s fastball was a tick higher, on average, than his first outing against the Brewers. Baker kept the Pirates off balance and allowed only two singles the first two times through the lineup. The Pirates squared up Baker rather well in the sixth as his outing was coming to an end.

Scott Baker recorded 11 fly ball outs and only two on the ground on 75 pitches, 64 for strikes, in six innings. Baker received a no decision after allowing one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Baker began his Cubs’ career with 10 1/3 innings of shutout ball.

James Russell was tagged with the loss after serving up the solo homer to Marlon Byrd. Carlos Villanueva, Zac Rosscup and Blake Parker put together scoreless outings after Russell gave up the go ahead run in relief of Scott Baker.

With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 63-85 on the season.

Starlin Castro led off the game with a single to right (2-1 pitch). Luis Valbuena followed and flied out to McCutchen in deep center (2-1 pitch). Anthony Rizzo walked on four pitches and the Cubs had two on with one down for Schierholtz.

Nate Schierholtz pulled a 1-1 pitch into right center. Castro scored easily as Byrd tracked down the ball. David Bell waived Rizzo around third. Neil Walker threw a strike to Russell Martin and Rizzo was tagged out. Schierholtz advanced to third on the throw. Sweeney tapped a 0-2 pitch back to the mound. The Cubs let a struggling Gerrit Cole off the hook and managed only one run on two hits and a walk. Cole threw 19 pitches in the first, nine for strikes.

Scott Baker retired the side in order in the first inning on 11 pitches, eight for strikes.

The Cubs did nothing against Cole in the second as he started settling in. Cole needed 29 pitches, 15 for strikes, to complete two innings.

Scott Baker surrendered an infield single to his former teammate, Justin Morneau, in the second, but that was all … 26 pitches for Baker after two innings, 19 for strikes.

Gerrit Cole struck out Scott Baker, Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena swinging in the third. Cole tossed 44 pitches, 25 for strikes, in three innings.

Scott Baker worked around a one-out single to right by Gerrit Cole in the third. Baker retired Tabata on a flyout to center (1-2 pitch) and Neil Walker flied out to left to end the inning. Baker threw 44 pitches, 31 for strikes, over his first three innings of work.

The Cubs led 1-0 after three complete on Saturday night.

Anthony Rizzo smoked a 1-1 pitch past Morneau and into right for a leadoff double in the fifth. Schierholtz could not get the job done and his at bat ended with an unproductive out. Schierholtz lined out to left (1-1 pitch). Sweeney grounded out to first (1-2 pitch), Rizzo advanced to third but was stranded when Bogusevic flied out to left center. After throwing nearly 20 pitches in the first inning, Cole needed only 56 pitches, 34 for strikes, to complete four frames.

Scott Baker retired the Pirates in order in the fourth (54 pitches, 38 for strikes) and after four innings, the Cubs led 1-0.

The Cubs wasted another scoring opportunity in the fifth. After Welington Castillo flied out to McCutchen at the wall in center for the first out, Darwin Barney singled to right. Baker could not get the bunt down and fouled out to Martin for the second out. Starlin Castro walked to put two on with two down for Luis Valbuena. McCutchen hauled in the routine fly off the bat of Valbuena to end the inning … 70 pitches for Cole after five innings, 43 for strikes.

Scott Baker made quick work of the Pirates in the fifth. Three up, three down for Baker and he threw 66 pitches, 47 for strikes, in five innings of work.

The Cubs went down in order in the sixth. Rizzo and Schierholtz struck out swinging and Sweeney popped out to second for the third out.

Scott Baker stayed in for the sixth and retired Cole on a grounder to short for the first out. Baker retired nine in a row at that point of the game. Jose Tabata cranked Baker’s first pitch to deep center. The ball left the yard and Tabata’s fifth homer of the season tied the game at one. Both Walker and McCutchen squared up Baker but Sweeney hauled in both hard hit balls to end the inning.

The game was tied at one after six innings.

Brian Bogusevic walked to start the seventh. Welington Castillo followed and ripped Cole’s first pitch into left for a single. With runners on first and second with no outs, Darwin Barney dropped a bunt toward third. Alvarez threw out Barney at first as Bogusevic and Castillo moved up ninety feet.

Dale Sveum went to his bench for Dioner Navarro to hit for Scott Baker. With the infield in and runners on second and third with one out, Navarro struck out swinging (2-2 pitch). Starlin Castro bounced a 1-1 pitch toward short and Mercer threw out Castro at first to end the inning. Cole threw 101 pitches, 61 for strikes, over seven innings … and after seven at bats, the Cubs were 1-for-8 with RISP and left six men on base.

James Russell took the mound for the seventh and retired Morneau on a tapper in front of the plate for the first out. Russell was left into face Byrd and served up a solo shot to his old teammate. Marlon Byrd cranked a 1-0 pitch to deep right center that ended up in the first row … 2-1 Pirates. Alvarez lined out to Sweeney and Dale Sveum went to his pen for Carlos Villanueva. Russell Martin struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Cubs trailed 2-1 after seven innings.

The Cubs did nothing against lefty Tony Watson in the eighth.

Carlos Villanueva stayed in and started the eighth. Mercer grounded out to Murphy at third for the first out. Villanueva walked pinch-hitter Travis Snider and Sveum went to his pen as soon as Garrett Jones was announced as the pinch-hitter for Tony Watson. With Zac Rosscup on his way in, Clint Hurdle countered with Gaby Sanchez. Rosscup retired Sanchez on a flyout to right center. Neil Walker singled to center (2-1 pitch) and Sveum went back to his pen for Blake Parker to face McCutchen. Parker got out of the first and second two out jam by retiring Andrew McCutchen on a grounder to Castro for the third out.

The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down by one run.

Mark Melancon retired Sweeney on a grounder to second for the first out. Bogusevic struck out swinging but reached on wild pitch. Welington Castillo rapped into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Travis Wood wraps up the four-game series in Pittsburgh against Francisco Liriano on Sunday afternoon.

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