Game One Hundred Fifty-Seven – Cubs 6, Pirates 4
WP – John Lackey (11-8) LP – Ryan Vogelsong (3-7) Save – Felix Pena (1)
Chris Coghlan hit a bases clearing triple in the second inning. Dexter Fowler and Javier Baez drove in runs. John Lackey allowed one run in five innings but the bullpen struggled in the ninth and the Cubs hung on and beat the Pirates on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
The Cubs have won 101 games in a single-season for the first time since 1910.
Joe Maddon used a lineup full of backups before emptying the bench in the sixth inning like a Spring Training game. The Cubs jumped out to an early lead in the second inning and scored three runs on one hit.
Chris Coghlan (2-for-4 with a triple, a walk and three RBI) cleared the bases with a triple to right center in the second inning. Coghlan just missed a Grand Slam with the ball hitting high off the wall. Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a HBP, a run scored and a RBI), Munenori Kawasaki (1-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored) and Dexter Fowler (1-for-3 with a double, a walk, a run scored and a RBI) all scored after reaching without a hit off Ryan Vogelsong.
The Cubs scored a run in the fourth on a double by Dexter Fowler to right center that one-hopped the wall and plated Munenori Kawasaki.
Leading 4-1 in the ninth, the Cubs added two runs that ended up being the difference in the game.
Albert Almora Jr. (2-for-2 with a double, a triple and a run scored) tripled to left center with one out in the ninth. Miguel Montero (0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored) worked a two-out walk and put runners on the corners. Tommy La Stella (0-for-5) hit a routine fly to left that Gregory Polanco appeared to lose in the lights. The ball hit off his glove and Almora Jr. scored on his error.
Javier Baez ripped a two-out single to center that allowed Montero to score the Cubs’ sixth and final run.
The Cubs scored six runs on eight hits and eight walks and finished the game 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position while leaving 11 men on base.
John Lackey was effective in what was his last start of the regular season. Lackey lacked command that he had in the previous outings leading up to Tuesday night. Lackey had a lot of deep counts which elevated his pitch count and shortened his outing. Lackey was off just enough to not get the calls he depends on to pitch deeper into games.
Lackey surrendered one run and was able to pitch his way out of trouble. Lackey’s lone clean inning came in the third. And the only run the Pirates scored off Lackey came in the second inning when Francisco Cervelli rapped into a 6-4-3 double play.
The Pirates were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six on base while Lackey was on the hill.
John Lackey completed five innings and qualified for the win before Maddon started using his bullpen. Lackey allowed one run on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Lackey made 93 pitches, 56 for strikes.
Travis Wood started the sixth and was brought in just to face Matt Joyce. Wood struck out the lefty and Maddon went straight to Trevor Cahill.
Wood, Cahill and Mike Montgomery combined on two scoreless innings in relief of Lackey. The Pirates managed a Josh Bell walk off Montgomery in the seventh. A wild pitch and a passed ball allowed Bell to move all the way to third before Montgomery struck out Gregory Polanco swinging to end the inning.
Carl Edwards Jr. labored through a 22-pitch eighth inning. Edwards Jr. was able to work around an error by Munenori Kawasaki and a walk to Jung Ho Kang to start the inning without allowing any runs. Edwards Jr. induced a 1-6-3 double play off the bat of Matt Joyce and caught Sean Rodriguez looking to end the inning.
Justin Grimm struggled in the ninth. Grimm was able to record only one out before he gave up three runs and let the Pirates back in the game. Albert Almora Jr. dropped a deep fly to center off the bat of Francisco Cervelli to start the inning. Almora Jr. makes that catch 99 times out of 100. Grimm could not throw a quality strike, issued two walks to load the bases before giving up back-to-back run scoring singles to Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen.
Maddon went to his pen for Felix Pena. After he struck out Jung Ho Kang on a ball in the dirt that allowed the tying runs to advance to scoring position, Pena intentionally walked Joyce to load the bases with two outs. With pinch-runner Alen Hanson on first representing the winning run, Pena struck out Sean Rodriguez swinging to end the game.
Felix Pena earned his first big league save.
The Cubs defense was the difference Tuesday night. Even with the two charged errors the Cubs made the plays to keep the Pirates off the board early in the game. The Cubs turned three double plays and the Pirates were unable to take advantage of the two miscues.
With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 101-56 on the year … a season-high 45 games over .500.
Jake Arrieta takes on Pirates’ rookie right-hander Jameson Taillon on Wednesday night (6:05pm CDT) in game three of four at PNC Park.