Game Eighty-Four – Cubs 2, Pirates 6
WP – Francisco Liriano (8-3) LP – Jeff Samardzija (5-8) Save – None
The Cubs struggles with their division rivals continued on Friday afternoon at the old ballyard as Dale Sveum’s team lost another game to the Pirates.
The Pirates outplayed the Cubs in just about every aspect of the game and the final score does not tell how lopsided the game actually was on Friday. The Cubs reverted to the poor play reserved only for teams within their division. The Cubs made several mental and physical mistakes that will not be found in a box score and Jeff Samardzija had one of his worst outings as a starter.
Jeff Samardzija had zero command of his fastball and splitter. Samardzija was all over the place, and not only was he up in the zone all afternoon, he missed his spots badly. Samardzija gave up six hits to the first 11 hitters he faced with the light-hitting Francisco Liriano driving the Pirates first run. Samardzija walked a season-high five batters, including Liriano on four pitches in the sixth, and he hit a batter in the fifth. Samardzija struck out a season-low three batters while surrendering five runs on nine hits in six innings. Samardzija threw 103 pitches, 59 for strikes.
Henry Rodriguez kept the Pirates off the board in the seventh but Hector Rondon allowed a run in the seventh. Pedro Strop was sharp again in the ninth and retired all three batters he faced.
Cubs pitching allowed six runs on 13 hits with seven walks, one hit batsman and four strikeouts. The Pirates hit three triples, stole four bases, including Andrew McCutchen stealing home in the third, and finished the game 4-for-18 with RISP and left 13 men on base.
Francisco Liriano picked up his third win of the season against the Cubs and recorded his first complete game since his no-hitter on the South Side on May 3, 2011. The Cubs did avoid the shutout, thanks to Scott Hairston, but a day after managing only two hits, the Cubs recorded just four hits on Friday to go along with four walks.
Scott Hairston (1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI) provided one of the few highlights for the Cubs. Hairston gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead in the second inning when he hit his seventh home run of the season. Dioner Navarro (2-for-3 with a walk) collected two of the Cubs’ four hits and Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a double) doubled with two-outs in the eighth but was picked off second to end the inning.
The Cubs dropped to 36-48 on the season after they lost a game for the 26th time in which they had a lead in.
Neither the Pirates nor the Cubs put any runs on the board in the first inning. The Pirates jumped on Jeff Samardzija in the second inning.
After Pedro Alvarez flied out to deep right to start the second, Russell Martin drove a 0-2 pitch into the right field corner. Martin ended up at second with a double. Samardzija struck out Tabata then intentionally walked Jordy Mercer to face the light-hitting Francisco Liriano. Liriano stepped in with two on and two outs.
Jeff Samardzija could not put Liriano away and he blooped a 1-2 pitch into shallow left. Martin scored as Mercer got hung up in a rundown and Ransom tagged him out to end the inning. The second inning was a pretty good indication that Samardzija did not have his good stuff on Friday. Samardzija needed 29 pitches, 18 for strikes, to complete two innings.
Cody Ransom walked to start the second and advanced to third when Rizzo grounded out to first base. The Pirates were in the shift and Ransom took advantage of no one covering third. Scott Hairston stepped in and launched a 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in left center. Hairston’s seventh longball of the year gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Barney flied out to left and Samardzija struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Pirates showed in the third inning how much further ahead of the Cubs they actually are. Starling Marte reached on a bunt single to start the inning. Marte swiped second on a 1-1 pitch to Walker. Navarro made a strong throw but Castro could not get the tag down in time. Neil Walker pulled a 2-2 pitch into right center. Dave Sappelt took a horrible route, the ball got past him and rolled to the ivy. Marte scored easily and tied the game at two. Walker recorded the Pirates’ sixth hit by the first 11 batters.
Samardzija jumped ahead of McCutchen before walking him and putting runners on the corners with no outs. Garrett Jones singled to right center. Walker scored, 3-2 Pirates. With runners on the corners again, Alvarez popped out to shallow left. Samardzija struggled with his command and fell behind Martin. Samardzija struck out Martin swinging on a 3-2 pitch. Jones broke with the pitch and stole second when Navarro’s throw sailed. Andrew McCutchen read the play perfectly and took off for the plate as soon as Navarro committed to second base. McCutchen stole home, 4-2 Pirates. Tabata flied out to left center to end the inning. Samardzija needed 54 pitches, 32 for strikes, to complete three innings.
Samardzija wiggled out of a jam in the fourth after issuing a leadoff walk to Mercer. A sac bunt and a flyout advanced Mercer to third but Walker grounded out to Barney to end the fourth.
The Pirates tacked on in the fifth after the Cubs went down in order quickly in the fourth. Garrett Jones tripled to right on a 2-0 pitch with one down. Jones just missed a home run as Hairston tried to make a leaping catch at the wall but was just a little out of position. With the infield in, Alvarez grounded out to short for the second out. Samardzija hit Martin with his first pitch.
Jose Tabata pulled a 0-1 pitch toward the hole at short. Castro fielded the ball but took too much time to make a throw. Tabata beat out Castro’s throw as Jones scampered in with the Pirates’ fifth run … replays showed Tabata was out on a very close play. Mercer popped out to Rizzo up the first baseline to end the inning. Samardzija threw 82 pitches, 50 for strikes, in five innings.
Francisco Liriano retired the Cubs in order in the fifth on nine pitches.
Jeff Samardzija stayed in for the sixth and Anthony Rizzo helped keep the Pirates from adding on to their three-run lead.
Samardzija walked Liriano on four pitches to start the inning. Marte grounded out to third on a 3-2 pitch, Ransom made a good pick and threw out Marte at first. Liriano advanced to second and held when Samardzija issued a four-pitch free pass to Neil Walker. With two on and one out, McCutchen hit a grounder toward third, Ransom made another good pick and forced Walker at second. Garrett Jones pulled a 0-1 pitch toward first. Anthony Rizzo made an excellent diving stop and threw to second to force McCutchen to end the inning.
The game remained 5-2 Pirates through the seventh inning.
The Pirates tacked on a run against Hector Rondon in the eighth. Starling Marte led off with a single to center. Marte stole second on the first pitch to Neil Walker. Rondon retired Walker on a grounder to second. Marte advanced to third. With the infield in, McCutchen shattered his bat and hit a grounder to Castro. With Marte’s speed, Castro did not have a chance and settled for the out at the first base. Gaby Sanchez followed with a single to center. Pedro Alvarez broke his bat but singled to left. Rondon then walked Russell Martin to load the bases. Jose Tabata grounded out to short to end the inning.
Starlin Castro picked up the Cubs’ fourth hit of the game with two down in the eighth. Castro doubled to left. But with his team down by four runs, Castro wandered too far off second after a 2-1 pitch to Navarro missed the zone. Martin threw to second and picked off Castro to end the inning.
Pedro Strop pitched a scoreless ninth. The Cubs were not able to capitalize on a two-out walk by Cody Ransom in the ninth. Anthony Rizzo grounded out to second to end the game. Francisco Liriano recorded his first complete game of the season and his first complete game since his no-hitter on the South Side more than two years ago (May 3, 2011).
Edwin Jackson is scheduled to face Charlie Morton in game two of the series on Saturday afternoon.