Game Eighty-Seven – Cubs 6, Pirates 12
WP – Arquimedes Caminero (1-2) LP – Adam Warren (3-2) Save – Jared Hughes (3)
The Cubs were not able to keep up with the Pirates and got their bell rung Saturday night. For the first time this season, the Cubs have lost five games in a row.
Jon Lester and Adam Warren were rocked. The Cubs actually outhit the Pirates 14-9 but could not outscore the mistakes Lester and Warren made on the mound. Lester and Warren could not find the strike zone and when they did, the Pirates hit the ball out of the park. The Pirates launched four home runs. Rookie Josh Bell provided the knockout blow with a Grand Slam in the fifth in his second big league at bat.
It was a back and forth ball game over the first four innings before the Pirates pulled away with the five-run fifth inning. The Cubs actually led the game 2-0 and 4-3 before the Pirates scored twice in the fourth and five times in the fifth on back-to-back homers by Josh Bell and Jordy Mercer.
Jon Lester had virtually zero command Saturday night and lasted just three innings. Lester could not deal with a small strike zone and didn’t seem to get on the same page with Willson Contreras. Lester actually walked the bases loaded in the second inning and hit Josh Harrison with bags juiced to force in the Pirates first run of the night.
For one of the few times this season, Lester did not execute his pitches. He really did not seem to have a feel at all and he knew it. Lester found the strike zone in the third inning and the Pirates launched two home runs, a solo shot by Andrew McCutchen that tied the game at four and Sean Rodriguez went yard with two outs to give the Pirates a 5-4 lead.
Lester followed up the worst start of his career with one that cannot be too far down on that list. Lester gave the Pirates five runs on four hits with three walks and he hit two batters. Lester served up two home runs and struck out three on 64 pitches, 35 for strikes.
Jon Lester must come back from the break and pitch the way he did for the first three months of the season in order for the Cubs to stay in the hunt for a spot in the post-season tournament.
Adam Warren replaced Lester in the fourth inning and was as bad Saturday as he was good in his start against the Reds. The Pirates teed off on Warren and scored seven runs on five hits in two innings. Warren loaded the bases in the fifth inning with the Cubs trailing 7-5. Clint Hurdle sent up rookie Josh Bell to hit for Arquimedes Caminero. Bell launched a 1-1 pitch from Warren out of the park to right. The ball almost landed in the river. It was a no doubter and the knockout blow. Jordy Mercer followed Bell’s slam with a solo shot and made it 12-5 Pirates.
Adam Warren did not return for the sixth inning. Warren allowed seven runs, all earned, on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
Jon Lester and Adam Warren walked a combined six batters, hit two batters and served up four home runs. Not too many teams can win a game with pitching performances like the Cubs received from Lester and Warren on Saturday night.
Spencer Patton, Justin Grimm and Hector Rondon did not allow a baserunner over the last three innings. The three relievers struck out seven of the last nine batters of the game.
Anthony Rizzo (4-for-5 with two doubles, a triple, a run scored and a RBI) came within inches of a cycle. Needing a home run in the eighth inning to complete the Cubs’ first cycle since Mark Grace more than 23 years ago (May 9, 1993), Rizzo hit a double off the top of the left field wall.
Ben Zobrist (1-for-5 with a home run and two RBI) gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the first inning. The Cubs scored two more runs in the third.
Anthony Rizzo led off the third with a triple to left center. Willson Contreras (2-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI) tied the game at three with an infield single that allowed Rizzo to score from third. And Contreras scored from second base on an infield single to the hole at short by Javier Baez (2-for-5 with a double and a RBI). The Cubs actually took a 4-3 lead on the hustle by Contreras and Baez. Jon Lester (no official at-bat, one walk) walked to load the bases. But Tommy La Stella (0-for-4 with three strikeouts) struck out swinging to end the inning. La Stella had another bad night at the plate.
The Cubs tied the game at five in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. But the Cubs were unable to push across the go ahead run after putting runners on the corners with one out. The Cubs were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position in the first four innings while leaving eight men on base.
The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to put runs on the board before the Pirates put the game away.
With Saturday’s loss, the Cubs dropped to 52-35 on the season.
John Lackey will look to salvage the final game of the series on Sunday afternoon (12:35pm CDT) against lefty Jon Niese.