Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Pirates battle past Cubs 7-5

Pirates battle past Cubs 7-5

A home run and a crucial go-ahead RBI from Gregory Polanco helped the Pirates shake off a mid-game meltdown to claim a 7-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park.

Polanco took the fourth pitch he saw from Cubs starter Dan Haren, an 83-mph. cutter that caught too much of the plate, and deposited it over the Clemente Wall to put the Pirates on the board early.

“[Polanco’s] done everything you could ask a leadoff hitter to do,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

Since the beginning of July, Polanco has scored 16 runs, driven in 14, and has posted a .372 on-base percentage. He has reached base safely in 23 of his last 25 games.

The 23-year old left fielder said that batting leadoff has suits him well.

“I’m getting my confidence back and trusting that I can play,” Polanco said. “I can hit the ball. I can trust in that.”

Pedro Alvarez hit an RBI single later in the first inning that would have been a two-RBI single had it not been for a fine throw by Cubs left fielder Chris Denorfia to gun down Aramis Ramirez at the plate.

In the third inning, Andrew McCutchen continued the assault on Haren, whose fastball rarely eclipsed the 85-mph. mark, with a home run that caromed off of the batter’s eye in center field. The blast was McCutchen’s 16th home run of the season.

Starling Marte scored in the fifth when two Cubs collided trying to field an Aramis Ramirez groundball. At the time, that looked like it would be all the Pirates would need because their starter, Jeff Locke, was rolling.

Locke only required 61 pitches to navigate five and one-third innings of one-run ball. But, after Addison Russell lined out to start the sixth inning, the wheels abruptly fell off.

The lefty walked Fowler and then allowed a sky-high home run to Cubs catcher Kyle Schwarber that barely eclipsed the right field wall, landing in the front row.

After Kris Bryant struck out, Anthony Rizzo hit a no-doubter over the Clemente Wall in right field and Hurdle stepped out of the dugout to pull Locke.

“It was quick damage,” Hurdle said. “It’s always unfortunate when it happens that way.”

Locke allowed four runs on four hits and one walk in 5.2 innings pitched. He struck out three.

After Locke’s exit, Jared Hughes gave up a single to Jorge Soler and walked the next two batters and, with the bases loaded, the Cubs looked poised to break the game open.

But Antonio Bastardo relieved Hughes and got left-handed pinch hitter Chris Coghlan to drive the first pitch he saw into the ground, which allowed Alvarez to corral the bouncing grounder and step on first base to end the inning and keep the game tied.

“That was the biggest pitch of the night,” Hurdle said.

Bastardo would eventually pick up his third win of the season with that single pitch.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Bucs did well to support their suddenly shaken starter. After Pedro Alvarez grounded out into the shift, Francisco Cervelli and Michael Morse both singled.

Polanco singled past a diving Addison Russell and Cervelli barreled around third base, scoring the go-ahead run in a cloud of dust. McCutchen would later drive in a sixth run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

The Pirates would score once more in the eighth, but the Buccos bullpen would not need the additional support.

Deadline acquisition Joakim Soria came into the game and pitched a scoreless seventh, Tony Watson struck out Anthony Rizzo en route to a scoreless eighth, and Mark Melancon picked up his 34th save of the season, despite giving up his first run since May 11th.Pirates Joakim Soria

When asked if the starters find any solace in having a strong bullpen behind them, Locke said it was the opposite.

“If anything, it kind of irritates us,” Locke said. “The relievers are there for when the starter falters. Sometimes nobody falters and we just go to them anyway because they’re so strong.”

ON DECK
After an off day, the Pirates invite the Los Angeles Dodgers to PNC Park on Friday for one of the best pitching matchups of the season when Gerrit Cole (14-5, 2.29 ERA) takes on the reigning National League M.V.P. Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.37 ERA).

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