Game One Hundred Fifty-Three – Cubs 2, Pirates 3
WP – Gerrit Cole (18-8) LP – Jon Lester (10-12) Save – Mark Melancon (51)
The Pirates took a 3-1 lead into the ninth. Chris Denorfia led off with a double. Starlin Castro tripled to right with one out. Denorfia scored and the Cubs had the tying run on third base with one out. The Cubs could not move the baseball. Jorge Soler and Javier Baez struck out swinging and the Cubs dropped the opener to the Pirates on Friday afternoon.
The Cubs inability to plate a runner from third with less than two outs cost them again Friday. With Mark Melancon on the ropes after the Chris Denorfia (1-for-1 with a double and a run scored) double and Starlin Castro (1-for-2 with a triple and a RBI) triple and the Pirates clinging to a one-run lead, Jorge Soler could not put the ball in play. Soler chased a 2-2 pitch and went down swinging. Javier Baez also chased a two-strike offering and Mark Melancon’s reaction exemplified the importance of this series.
The Cubs played a good game for the most part. Two defensive plays in the eighth inning allowed the Pirates to tack on a run. Miguel Montero let another pitch in the dirt get past him. Instead of striking out Jordy Mercer to start the eighth, Mercer reached and scored the Pirates third run on a chopper to Starlin Castro at short. Castro appeared to have a play on Mercer at the plate with the infield in but did not throw home.
Offensively, the Cubs did not take advantage of run scoring opportunities against Gerrit Cole. Addison Russell (1-for-3 with a RBI) drove in Kris Bryant (2-for-4 with a run scored) with the tying run in the fourth inning when he grounded out to Mercer at the hole at short. On the afternoon, the Cubs finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.
Jon Lester pitched a good game. He was outpitched by Gerrit Cole. Lester made two mistakes in seven innings which accounted for both runs he allowed. Jordy Mercer doubled in the third and scored the game’s first run on a seeing-eye single by Gerrit Cole. And Aramis Ramirez led off the seventh with a double into the left field corner on a 1-2 pitch. Pinch-runner Keon Broxton scored the winning run after a sac bunt from Francisco Cervelli and a single by Michael Morse.
Pedro Strop was charged with a run in the eighth on one hit despite striking out three of the five batters he faced.
Travis Wood and Fernando Rodney combined on a scoreless ninth.
With Friday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 89-64 on the season.
Jon Lester set down the first seven batters he faced Friday afternoon. Lester made 26 pitches in two innings, 19 for strikes. After Harrison flied out to left (3-2 pitch) to start the third, Jordy Mercer pulled Lester’s first pitch into the gap in left center. The ball one-hopped the wall and stuck in the ivy for a ground rule double. Gerrit Cole grounded a 0-1 pitch back up the middle and just out of the reach of a diving Addison Russell. Mercer scored, 1-0 Pirates. Lester struck out Polanco swinging (3-2 pitch) and Marte rapped out to La Stella at second for the third out. Lester needed 46 pitches, 32 for strikes, to complete three innings.
Tommy La Stella bounced out to first base to start the third. Dexter Fowler flied out to right and Kyle Schwarber popped out to Mercer at short … a quick 1-2-3 for Cole in the third (46 pitches, 28 strikes).
At the end of three it was 1-0 Pirates.
The Pirates were retired in order in the fourth. McCutchen flied out to center, Ramirez struck out swinging and Cervelli flied out to center. Lester made 58 pitches, 40 for strikes, in four innings.
Kris Bryant put together another good at bat leading off the fourth. Bryant ripped a 3-2 pitch from Cole into left for a single. Anthony Rizzo blooped a 3-1 pitch out of the reach of Harrison in right center. Bryant went to third on Rizzo’s single. Chris Coghlan struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) on a high fastball with runners on the corners.
Addison Russell put Cole’s first pitch into play. Mercer fielded the ball at the hole at short and forced Rizzo at second. Russell hustled down the line and beat Harrison’s throw to first. Bryant scored and tied the game at one. Ross struck out swinging to end the fourth. Cole needed 66 pitches, 40 for strikes, for the first four innings.
The Cubs and Pirates were tied at one after four innings.
With the game still tied at one, Aramis Ramirez started the seventh with a double to the left field corner (1-2 pitch). Keon Broxton ran for Ramirez at second. Francisco Cervelli bunted toward third. Broxton moved up 90 feet as Bryant threw out Cervelli at first. Maddon brought his infield in with the go ahead run at third base. Michael Morse punched a 2-2 pitch in between Rizzo and La Stella into right. Broxton scored, 2-1 Pirates. Sean Rodriguez ran for Morse. Rodriguez took off for second on a 0-2 pitch to Harrison. Lester jammed Harrison. Rizzo caught the pop fly and doubled off Rodriguez at first base to end the inning.
Gerrit Cole set the Cubs down in order in the seventh (Addison Russell, Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler).
The game went to the eighth with the Cubs trailing 2-1.
The Pirates put the game away in the eighth inning. Pedro Strop replaced Lester for the eighth and struck out Jordy Mercer swinging on a 0-2 pitch in the dirt. Miguel Montero also entered the game in the eighth and allowed another ball to get past him. The ball hit and jumped over Montero’s right shoulder. Mercer reached on a wild pitch.
Pedro Alvarez batted for Gerrit Cole. Alvarez pulled a 1-0 pitch to right center. Mercer went to third with no outs. With the infield in, Strop caught Polanco looking for the first out. Maddon kept his infield in. Marte chopped a 0-1 pitch toward short. Maddon left Castro in the game. He fielded the ball cleanly and had a shot Mercer at the plate. Castro thought about and decided to get the sure out at first instead. Mercer scored, 3-1 Pirates. McCutchen struck out swinging for the fourth (third) out.
Javier Baez appeared to reach on a bunt single to start the eighth against Tony Watson. Baez pushed the ball up the first baseline and dove headfirst into the bag. Baez was called safe. The Pirates challenged the call and it was overturned. Fowler grounded out to first base.
Austin Jackson batted for Schwarber with the lefty Watson on the hill. Jackson walked. Kris Bryant singled to right. But with runners on first and second and two down, Rizzo struck out swinging (1-2 pitch).
The game went to the ninth with the Cubs down 3-1.
Travis Wood and Fernando Rodney hung a zero on the board. And Mark Melancon made his way in from the Pirates’ pen.
Chris Denorfia hit for Rodney and doubled into the right field corner. Montero struck out swinging.
Starlin Castro drove a 0-1 pitch to right. The ball landed just inside the line. Denorfia scored and Castro motored his way around the bases and slid in at third with a triple. Quintin Berry ran for Castro at third. Jorge Soler struck out swinging on a 2-2 pitch in the dirt. And Javier Baez went down swinging (0-2 pitch) to end the game.
Jason Hammel faces Francisco Liriano on Saturday afternoon (12:05pm CDT) in game two with the Pirates.