Game One Hundred Forty-Eight: Cubs 6, Pirates 4
WP – Felix Doubront (2-1) LP – Jeff Locke (7-5) Save – Hector Rondon (24)
Felix Doubront threw six innings of shutout ball, Javier Baez hit his second home run in as many nights, Mike Olt doubled in a run and Matt Szczur went deep for the first time in the big leagues as the Cubs held on Saturday night and beat the Pirates.
The Cubs received a very good outing from Felix Doubront and the southpaw even collected his first big league hit. Doubront did not struggle with his mechanics and was sharp throughout his six innings of work. Doubront hit his spots and had good location. The Pirates managed only four hits off Doubront, all singles, and the Cubs defense made the plays behind him.
Felix Doubront turned the game over to the pen in the seventh inning after allowing four hits and no runs with a walk and a strikeout. Doubront threw 84 pitches, 52 strikes, in six innings.
After a shaky, but effective seventh inning, Dan Straily let the Pirates back in the game. The Pirates scored three runs in the eighth on a bases clearing double by Russell Martin. Pedro Strop cleaned up for Straily in the eighth inning and kept the Pirates from cutting further into the Cubs lead.
The Pirates made it a two-run game in the ninth on a solo homer from Travis Snider, just the second longball all season off Hector Rondon. The Cubs’ closer did not allow the solo blast to bother him and he retired the next three batters he faced to end the game. Rondon picked up his 24th save of the season after allowing just his second earned run since the All-Star break.
The Cubs scored as many runs Saturday night at PNC Park as they had the first four games of the road trip combined.
Javier Baez (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) put the Cubs on the board with a two-run shot in the third inning. Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and two walks) followed Baez’s blast with a double off the wall in right and scored when Chris Valaika (1-for-5) grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
Welington Castillo (1-for-3 with a sac fly RBI and a walk) plated Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base) with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. The Cubs actually manufactured a run after Alcantara singled, stole second advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly. Mike Olt (1-for-4 with a double, a walk and a RBI) doubled in Valbuena with the Cubs fifth run in the seventh inning.
Matt Szczur (2-for-4 with a home run and a double) entered play Saturday night without an extra basehit in the big leagues. Szczur doubled in the second and hit the first home run of his career in the eighth inning that gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead.
Five of the Cubs 10 hits went for extra bases.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs improved to 65-83 on the season.
Arismendy Alcantara led off the third inning of a scoreless game with an infield single to the hole at short. Jordy Mercer fielded the ball but did not have a play on Alcantara. Javier Baez followed and smacked a 1-0 pitch down the left field line and into the stands. Baez’s ninth homer and second in as many games gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Luis Valbuena followed Baez’s blast with a double off the wall in right. Welington Castillo singled to left, but hit the ball too hard for Valbuena to score. Chris Valaika stepped in with runners on the corners and no outs. Valaika rolled a 0-1 pitch toward short. Mercer fielded the ball and started a 6-4-3 double play as Valbuena raced in and made it 3-0 Cubs. Mike Olt popped out to left for the third out. Jeff Locke threw 53 pitches, 32 strikes, in the first three innings.
Travis Snider led off the Pirates third inning with a single to center on a 3-2 pitch. But Jeff Locke bunted right to a charging Valbuena and Snider was forced at second base. Felix Doubront retired Josh Harrison on a pop out to right and Mercer on a grounder to Baez at short to end the inning. Doubront needed 31 pitches, 21 for strikes, to complete three innings.
The Cubs led 3-0 after three complete.
The Pirates made contact against Doubront, but he was able to work around the leadoff hitters reaching in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Doubront retired Russell Martin on a grounder to third to end the sixth inning. Doubront threw 84 pitches, 52 strikes, in six innings.
The Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the seventh inning. Arismendy Alcantara led off the seventh with a bloop single to left off Brandon Cumpton. Alcantara swiped second with Baez at the plate. Martin’s throw was on the money and Clint Hurdle asked for a review, but the call on the field stood and Alcantara was in scoring position with no outs. A wild pitch with Baez still at the dish allowed Alcantara to move up ninety feet. With the infield in, Baez was called out on strikes. Cumpton intentionally walked Luis Valbuena. With runners on the corners and one out, Welington Castillo put together one of his better at bats of the season. Castillo worked a full count before hitting a fly to deep left center. McCutchen caught the ball, Alcantara tagged and scored … 4-0 Cubs. Chris Valaika singled to right and put two on with two out for Mike Olt.
Clint Hurdle made his way to the mound and went to his pen for Jeanmar Gomez. And Hurdle helped Olt with a better match-up. Mike Olt pulled a 1-1 pitch down the third baseline. Valbuena scored, 5-0 Cubs, and Valaika stopped at third on Olt’s double. Lake struck out swinging to end the inning.
Dan Straily replaced Doubront for the seventh and retired three of the four batters he faced.
The game went to the eighth with the Cubs leading 5-0.
Justin Wilson took over for Gomez in the eighth and Matt Szczur greeted him with a drive down the line to left. The ball left the park and Szczur circled the bases for the first time in his big league career, 6-0 Cubs.
After the Szczur solo shot, Wilson retired Coghlan (swinging strikeout), Alcantara (grounder to short) and Baez (pop out to first) to end the inning.
Dan Straily stayed in for the eighth and let the Pirates back into the game. Josh Harrison led off with a single to left. Jordy Mercer followed with a ground rule double to right. But with runners on second and third with no outs, McCutchen swung at the first pitch and popped out to Baez. Straily issued a free pass to Walker and Russell Martin stepped in with the bags juiced and one out. Martin just missed a grand slam early in the at bat and settled with a bases clearing double down the third baseline. And just like that the Cubs lead was cut in half, 6-3 Cubs. Rick Renteria went to his pen for Pedro Strop. Andrew Lambo fouled out to Mike Olt and Ike Davis struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Cubs led 6-3 after eight innings.
Luis Valbuena worked a walk against John Axford to start the ninth, but that was all for the Cubs and Hector Rondon made his way in from the pen.
Travis Snider led off the ninth with a solo homer to right and cut the Cubs lead to 6-4, just the second home run allowed by Rondon this season. Rondon did not let the blast bother him and the Cubs’ closer retired pinch-hitter Brent Morel swinging, Josh Harrison on a pop out to first and Jordy Mercer on a grounder to Baez to end the game.
The Cubs wrap up the series and season series with the Pirates on Sunday afternoon (12:35pm CDT). Jacob Turner is scheduled to face Edison Volquez.