The Pittsburgh Pirates offense continued its struggles on Sunday afternoon, leaving 13 runners on base and losing to the Chicago Cubs, 4-2. The Pirates amassed seven hits and got runners in scoring position, but they couldn’t get anything going. The Cubs capitalized on a few missed-location pitches and smacked three home runs to fuel their offense.
“Yeah, that would probably be at the top of the list,” said manager Clint Hurdle when asked about missed opportunities on the afternoon.
Being a team in playoff contention, the Pirates can’t afford to miss out on opportunities, especially when they jump out to early leads. Jeff Locke also gave the Pirates ample opportunity to take advantage of Cubs’ pitching, tossing six innings of work and only surrendering two runs. But the Bucs lacked the firepower to give the pitching staff any run support.
Andrew McCutchen got the Pirates on the board early in the first. He crushed a 1-1 pitch into the left field bleachers to give the Bucs an early 1-0 lead.
The Cubs answered in the top of the fourth inning with two solo homers. Josh Vitters and Anthony Recker belted two deep shots to left and center field to put the Cubs ahead 2-1.
The Pirates got two runners on base in both the fifth and sixth innings but failed to produce any runs.
The Bucs did tie the game in the seventh inning. Brock Holt smashed a leadoff triple into the right field corner, and McCutchen followed it up with a walk. Cubs’ reliever James Russell balked on the mound during Garrett Jones’ at-bat, allowing Holt to cross home and tie the game at 2-2.
Chicago went ahead for good in the top of the eighth. Jason Grilli allowed Anthony Rizzo on base with a single, and Alfonso Soriano blasted a deep two-run homer to center, giving the Cubs a 4-2 lead. Chad Qualls and Joel Hanrahan kept the score at 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth.
The Pirates threatened by loading the bases with one out in the inning but couldn’t capitalize. Gaby Sanchez struck out, and Pedro Alvarez flew out to left field to end the game.
“We need to play better—that’s it,” added Hurdle. “I’m not going to get up here and point fingers or this and that or say this. I’m telling you how I feel.”
The Pirates go on the road to face the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series starting tomorrow night. Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 3.71 ERA) takes the mound against Mat Latos (12-4, 3.69 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:10 p.m.