In the sixth inning, Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman David Freese’s committed a costly error, allowing the Chicago Cubs to take a lead for the first time all night — something that’s considered a cardinal sin when Cubs’ ace Jake Arrieta is on the mound. Yet the Pirates got away with it, winning 8-4.
This win allowed the Pirates to snap an eight-game losing streak to NL Central opponents, and the division-leading Cubs have now lost eight of their past nine games.
In Friday’s game, the Pirates had to again come from behind. Trailing 4-3 in the seventh inning, Pittsburgh pinch hitter Adam Frazier battled to earn a walk and fellow pinch hitter Josh Bell recorded a single in his first Major League at-bat.
— Ryan Recker (@RyanRecker) July 9, 2016
Then first baseman John Jaso came to the plate.
Jaso and Arrieta battled to a 2-2 count. Next, Arrieta threw a good pitch, a sinker in the lower half, outside the strike zone. Jaso offered and hit an opposite field single to left field, tying the game and knocking out the Cubs’ ace.
Even though Arrieta left the game, his line wasn’t closed when reliever Travis Wood came in.
First came right fielder Gregory Polanco, who hit what appeared to be a routine ground out on a 2-0 fastball. But Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s throw didn’t time with Wood’s glove, and the Pirates got the lead.
Carl Edwards Jr. then entered for the Cubs, and Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen promptly greeted the reliever with an RBI single on a 1-1 pitch.
Two batters later, left fielder Starling Marte grounded out to Chicago’s Ben Zobrist at second base. There was the potential for a double play, but Zobrist’s throw pulled shortstop Addison Russell off the bag at second base. While Russell had the presence to put his foot on second base, another run scored.
When the book finally closed on Arrieta (12-4), he was responsible for six earned runs, his highest total since Aug. 28, 2014.
As nice as the comeback win was, it didn’t look like it would be needed after the Pirates took an early 3-0 lead of Arrieta.
Freese led off the second inning with his 10th home run of the season, a 1-0 fastball over the Clemente Wall in right field. Three batters later, shortstop Sean Rodriguez followed that up with a two-run home run. Marte, who singled earlier in the inning also scored on that play.
But the Cubs started slowly inching back, scoring a run in the fourth inning on a Javier Baez RBI ground out. Then, in the sixth inning, Russell reached on the aforementioned Freese error. Jason Heyward then singled, which knocked Pirates’ starting pitcher Francisco Liriano out of the game.
Reliever Juan Nicasio took Liriano’s place on the mound. He got Baez to ground into a double play, but Miguel Montero hit a two-run homer over the Clemente Wall.
An inning later, Rizzo homered on a 3-2 fastball over the right-center field wall off Pittsburgh reliever Neftali Feliz.
But that was all moot as the Pirates clawed their way back into the game — and, perhaps, back into the race for the NL Central.
On Saturday, the Pirates’ Chad Kuhl (1-0, 4.09 ERA) will face the Cubs’ Jon Lester (9-4, 2.67 ERA). It will be Kuhl’s third career Major League start.
Broadcaster Mike “Doc” Emrick was on Friday night’s MLB Network broadcast of this game with Bob Costas. Emrick is a Pirates fan who participated in the team’s 2012 Fantasy Camp in Bradenton, FL. This season, he worked with Pirates broadcasters a couple of times during Spring Training.
Here’s what Emrick had to say after the Pirates’ final out:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 9, 2016
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