A Hard Night for Hammel – Pirates 4, Cubs 2

Game Sixty-Three: Cubs 2, Pirates 4

WP – Brandon Cumpton (2-2) LP – Jason Hammel (6-4) Save – Jason Grilli (10)

Jason Hammel had a bad night after rain delayed the start of the game for one hour and 38 minutes. The Cubs offense could not string together any hits against Brandon Cumpton and the Cubs dropped the third game of the series to the Pirates.

Jason Hammel had an outing that just about every starting pitcher has over the course of the season. Hammel’s scoreless innings streak (14) ended in the first inning when he served up a homer to Andrew McCutchen, the first longball hit off Hammel in 51 2/3 innings. Hammel gave up a season-high nine hits by the fourth inning and if not for a baserunning blunder by the rookie Gregory Polanco in the fourth inning, Hammel’s final line might have looked worse. The Pirates squared up everything Hammel threw in the strike zone. Hammel gave up runs in the first three innings and the Pirates left seven runners on base in the first four innings (2-for-8 with RISP). Hammel could not find a rhythm, and everything he threw seemed to be up in the zone.

Jason Hammel turned the game over to Carlos Villanueva after the fifth inning. Hammel gave up four runs on a season-high 11 hits with two walks, a HBP and six strikeouts. Hammel threw 93 pitches, 56 for strikes, in five innings.

Carlos Villanueva and Justin Grimm did not allow a hit or a run over the last three innings. Villanueva issued two walks in his two frames with three strikeouts. Grimm pitched a perfect eighth with a strikeout. The two relievers did their jobs and kept the Pirates from adding on, but the offense could not get anything going on Wednesday night.

The Cubs had chances early in the game to put more than two runs on the board. Luis Valbuena (3-for-4 with a double and a run scored) collected three of the Cubs’ five hits and the team’s only basehit after the second inning.

John Baker (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Valbuena with the Cubs first run and Darwin Barney (0-for-4 with a RBI) drove in Nate Schierholtz (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) with a fielder’s choice that tied the game at two in the second inning. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-2 with a walk, a HBP and two strikeouts) reached base twice but did not put a ball in play in his four at bats.

The Cubs managed a grand total of five hits, one for extra bases, three walks and a HBP. The Cubs went 2-for-8 with RISP and left eight men on base.

With Wednesday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 26-37 on the season.

Jason Hammel issued a four-pitch walk to Josh Harrison to start his evening. Gregory Polanco lined out to right center. Justin Ruggiano caught the ball and just missed doubling Harrison off first base. Andrew McCutchen did what Andrew McCutchen does against the Cubs. McCutchen lifted a 1-0 pitch down the left field line. Chris Coghlan tracked the ball, climbed the short wall and if not for a fan getting his hands on the ball, Coghlan would have made an unbelievable catch. Instead, it was a two-run homer and the Cubs were in a hole. Hammel struck out Ike Davis. Starling Marte singled to right but Pedro Alvarez popped out to Castro for the third out. Hammel threw 18 pitches in the first inning, 10 for strikes.

After one inning, the Cubs were down 2-0.

Luis Valbuena led off the second with a single to left center. Nate Schierholtz walked. John Baker singled to center. Valbuena scored and cut the Pirates lead to 2-1. With runners on the corners and no outs, Darwin Barney hit a bouncer past the mound. Schierholtz scored as Harrison threw out Barney at first. The Cubs tied the game at two. Hammel struck out swinging and Coghlan flied out to deep right center to end the inning.

The Pirates took the lead right back in the bottom of the second. Hammel struck out Marte swinging for the first out. The light-hitting Jordy Mercer drove a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right center. Ruggiano could not make the catch. Brandon Cumpton followed with a single to right, and the pitcher’s first big league hit put runners on the corners with one out. Hammel hit Harrison with a 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Gregory Polanco grounded to first, Mercer scored, 3-2 Pirates. Hammel intentionally walked McCutchen to re-load the bases. And Ike Davis struck out swinging to end the inning. Hammel needed 45 pitches, 24 for strikes, to get through two innings on Tuesday night.

The Cubs could not cash-in second and third with two down in the third and the Pirates went right back to work in the home half. Hammel struck out Martin for the first out. Pedro Alvarez drove a 3-0 pitch into the gap in left center. Alvarez hustled out of the box and ended up at third with his first triple of the season. Starling Marte singled to center, Alvarez scored, 4-2 Pirates. Mercer followed with a single to left (3-2 pitch), Marte advanced to third with one out. Hammel struck out Cumpton looking and pinch-hitter Clint Barmes swinging to end the inning.

After three complete, the Cubs trailed 4-2.

The Pirates ran themselves out of the fourth and fifth innings while Hammel continued to struggle on the mound. The Pirates scored four runs on 11 hits with two walks and a hit batsman off Hammel in five innings. The Bucs were 2-for-9 with RISP and left eight men on base with Hammel on the hill.

The Pirates led 4-2 after five innings.

And that is the way the game ended. The Cubs offense could not get on track and the Pirates kept running themselves out of innings.

The Cubs and Pirates wrap up the four-game series on Thursday night (6:05pm CDT). Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Edinson Volquez.

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