Cubs Can’t Overcome Edwin Jackson – Pirates 7, Cubs 6

Game Seven – Cubs 6, Pirates 7

WP – Tony Watson (2-0, BS 1) LP – Pedro Strop (0-1) Save – Jason Grilli (2)

Edwin Jackson had a bad outing and his teammates could not dig out of the hole he put them in. The Cubs battled back all night and tied the game two times. But the bullpen walked the bases loaded in the eighth and Pittsburgh scored the eventual winning run without a basehit as the Cubs lost the opener of the three-game to the Pirates on Tuesday night.

There are very few, if any, positives to take out of Edwin Jackson’s performance on Tuesday night. Edwin Jackson gave up four runs in the first inning and could not throw enough strikes to keep the Pirates off the scoreboard after his teammates battled back and tied the game at four in the third inning. Jackson struggled with his command, missed his spots and everything he threw appeared to be belt high or higher and the Pirates took advantage of his mistakes. The Pirates squared up Jackson with five of the nine hits he allowed going for extra bases. Jackson lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on nine hits with four walks, a hit batsman and four strikeouts. Jackson threw 85 pitches, 52 for strikes, before turning the game over to the bullpen.

Brian Schlitter and Justin Grimm kept the Pirates off the board in the sixth and seventh innings. Pedro Strop and James Russell walked the bases loaded in the eighth and Russell Martin hit a sacrifice fly off of James Russell that plated Starling Marte with the winning run.

For as shaky as the Cubs’ pen was on Tuesday, the Pirates scored only one of their seven runs off the relief corps. Cubs pitching gave up 11 hits and walked seven batters … 18 baserunners in nine innings usually equal a loss and it did for the Cubs on Tuesday.

Starlin Castro (3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI) had one of his best all-around games in two years. Not only did Castro collect the first multi-homer game of his career Tuesday but he was excellent in the field. Castro’s first home run of the game came in the third inning and the three-run shot off of Charlie Morton tied the game at four. Castro launched a solo shot in the sixth that cut the Pirates lead to 6-5.

Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a RBI, a walk and a run scored) tied the game in the seventh with a single off of lefty Tony Watson. And Emilio Bonifacio (3-for-5 with a RBI, a run scored and a stolen base) collected three more hits and scored the tying run in the seventh on Rizzo’s single after he stole third base.

Rick Renteria was ejected in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s game for arguing balls and strikes with homeplate umpire Jeff Nelson. Nelson had an inconsistent strike zone all night for both teams.

All four games with the Pirates this season have been decided by one run … and the Cubs have come up short in three of the four games.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 2-5 on the season.

The Pirates jumped on Edwin Jackson in the first inning. Starling Marte pulled Jackson’s first pitch into the left field corner for a double. Travis Snider flied out to deep left. Marte tagged and advanced to third with one out. Jackson issued a four-pitch walk to Andrew McCutchen. With runners on the corners and one down, Pedro Alvarez stepped in and ripped a double into right center. Marte and McCutchen scored, 2-0 Pirates just ten minutes and 13 pitches in to the game. Jackson hit Russell Martin with the first pitch. Neil Walker followed with a single to right (0-1 pitch), Alvarez scored … 3-0 Pirates. Martin advanced to third on Schierholtz’s throw to the plate. Travis Ishikawa made it 4-0 Pirates with a sac fly to left center that plated Martin. Jordy Mercer blooped a single into right. Walker stopped at third with two down and was stranded when Edwin Jackson struck out Charlie Morton to end the inning.

The Pirates scored four runs on four hits with a walk and a hit batsman in the first inning … and it took Edwin Jackson 22 pitches, 13 for strikes.

The Cubs made a dent in the Pirates lead in the second inning. Starlin Castro singled to right (3-2 pitch) and advanced to second when Ryan Sweeney dumped a 2-2 pitch into center. With two on and no outs, Welington Castillo hit a chopper toward third. Alvarez fielded the ball in the baseline and tried to tag Castro has he went by. Castro was called out after it was ruled he was out of the bases. Rick Renteria argued to no avail. Edwin Jackson failed to get a bunt down and could not pull the bat back on a 0-2 pitch. With two down, Emilio Bonifacio singled to center. Sweeney scored, 4-1 Pirates. Ryan Kalish, for some reason, tried to bunt for a hit with two outs and two men on. Morton picked up the ball and threw Kalish out at first to end the inning.

After Edwin Jackson retired the Pirates in order in the third (44 pitches, 30 for strikes for Jackson after three innings), Anthony Rizzo led off the third with a single to center. Schierholtz flied out to right. Luis Valbuena singled to center. Rizzo stopped at second with one out. Starlin Castro stepped in and lined a 1-2 pitch into the bleachers in left. Castro’s first homer of the season tied the game at four. Sweeney grounded out to first and Castillo grounded out to short to end the inning. Charlie Morton needed 62 pitches, 42 for strikes, to get through three innings.

At the end of three complete, the game was tied at four … but not for long.

Edwin Jackson made quick work of Mercer and Morton to start the fourth before he lost all command. Jackson issued back-to-back two out walks Starling Marte and Travis Snider. Jackson fell behind McCutchen 2-0. Andrew McCutchen ripped Jackson’s next pitch into center. Marte scored, 5-4 Pirates. Pedro Alvarez flied out to Kalish in left to end the inning.

The Pirates kept taking batting practice against Jackson in the fifth. Russell Martin led off with a double to right center (3-2 pitch). Neil Walker flied out to deep right. Martin tagged and advanced to third. With the infield in, Travis Ishikawa just missed a homer to right. The ball hit off the top of the vines, Martin scored and Ishikawa ended up a third with a standup triple. Jackson threw a couple of pitches to Mercer before intentionally walking the Pirates’ shortstop. With runners on the corners and one out, Morton dropped down a bunt (0-2 pitch) that advanced Mercer to second. Rick Renteria decided Jackson was done and went to his pen for Brian Schlitter. Marte grounded out to third (2-0 pitch) to end the inning. But after four and a half innings, the Pirates led 6-4.

The game remained 6-4 Pirates until the sixth inning. After Brian Schlitter retired the Pirates in order in the top of the inning, Starlin Castro led off the bottom half with his second home run of the night. Castro launched a hanging curveball (0-2 pitch) into the bleachers in left … 6-5 Pirates. Morton struck out Sweeney looking, Castillo on a deep fly to left and pinch-hitter Mike Olt on a grounder to second base.

Emilio Bonifacio led off the seventh with the Cubs still down by a 6-5 score. Bonifacio collected his third hit, a single to center, to start the inning against left Tony Watson. Kalish bunted Bonifacio to second. On a 1-1 pitch to Rizzo, Bonifacio took off for third and slide in safe with one down. Clint Hurdle pulled his infield in. Anthony Rizzo lined a 2-2 pitch back up the middle and into center. Bonifacio scored, game tied at six. Schierholtz struck out swinging and Valbuena lined out to right to end the inning.

After seven complete, the game was tied at six.

Pedro Strop started the eighth and walked Starling Marte to start the inning after not getting the call on a 3-2 pitch on the outside part of the plate. Strop got the call on a 0-2 pitch to Snider as Marte swiped second base. Strop wanted nothing to do with McCutchen and walked him. Renteria went to his pen for James Russell to face Pedro Alvarez. Russell walked Alvarez (3-2 pitch) to load the bases with one out. Russell Martin gave the Pirates the lead with a sac fly to right (3-1 pitch). Marte tagged and scored, 7-6 Pirates. Neil Walker grounded a 3-2 pitch to Castro to finally end the inning.

Jason Hammel faces Wandy Rodriguez in game two on Wednesday night (7:05pm CDT).

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