Home Pittsburgh Sports College Football Pirates waste opportunities as Cubs complete sweep

Pirates waste opportunities as Cubs complete sweep

Matt Joyce homered again but the Pirates left 18 men on base as the Cubs completed their sweep of the Pirates at PNC Park Wednesday afternoon, losing to Jon Lester 6-2.

“We just didn’t play that well,” Josh Harrison said. “We had our chances.”

Lester (3-1) had to tiptoe out of danger, but the Pirates could not get anything off of the third straight Chicago starter with a sub-2 ERA.

Juan Nicasio (3-3) only gave up one earned run, but he had trouble putting hitters away and only lasted 4.1 innings. The leadoff man got on four times against him and he worked at a much slower pace than he did in his last start which was far more successful.

“I [was] feeling good, feeling the same way as last time,” Nicasio said. “I made a couple mistakes on the breaking ball…it’s what happens sometimes.”

The Cubs got cooking in the third when Andrew McCutchen dropped an Anthony Rizzo liner mid-slide with two outs. Ben Zobrist then hammered the next pitch into the seats in right-center to make it 3-0. Rizzo continued to torment the Pirates from there, scoring on a Javier Baez double in the fifth and then hitting a solo shot in the seventh to make it 5-0.

The Pirates were presented plenty of chances against Lester in the later innings but could never cash in. The most drastic example was in the fourth, where they loaded the bases and Lester fell behind in the count to Sean Rodriguez, Josh Harrison and Gregory Polanco, but he tiptoed out with two strikeouts and a popup.

The Bucs also stranded four more runners in the fifth and sixth before Lester exited after 5.2 shutout frames. The Pirates were only able to get two runs in 18.2 innings against Cubs’ starters this series.

“Today I thought we had pitches to hit. We had two push innings, and in the push innings we were up with four strikeouts and a pop fly,” Hurdle said. “We had opportunities all day to put something significant, I felt.”

The Pirates did eventually get on the board when Matt Joyce clubbed his league leading third pinch-hit home run in the seventh, but that was all they could muster.

The Pirates return to action Friday against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Francisco Liriano (2-1, 3.86) will oppose Carlos Martinez (4-1, 2.60) at 8:15 p.m.. It is the first game of a nine day road trip.

1. Joyce has hit more pinch-hit home runs this year than the Pirates did in 2015.

2. Rodriguez has logged a hit in all eight of his starts this year, batting .355.

3. Pirates’ starters threw 303 pitches in a combined 14 innings this series. None made it out of the fifth.

Previous articleRight Decision, Wrong Result
Next articlePenguins GM Rutherford has scripted success story