The Pittsburgh Pirates have shown the ability to fight back under manager Clint Hurdle.
That ability was on display more than once Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, but as much as the Pirates would fight, a bizarre play ultimately sent them to their third defeat in row, falling victim to the Chicago Cubs 11-10 in 12 innings.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, Pirates reliever Radhames Liz got Matt Szczur to pop up to shallow right field. However the Cubs won on a walk-off trip as Pirates Gregory Polanco lost his footing and tripped as the ball fell in for a single that scored Starlin Castro to win the game.
The Pirates trailed by six runs in the sixth inning and five runs in the eighth, but managed to fight back and tie the game with two outs in the ninth on an RBI single off the bat of Francisco Cervelli that plated Josh Harrison.
The ball was flying out of Wrigley Field Friday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Pirates they found that out a bit too late.
Pirates starting pitcher Jeff Locke made a couple mistakes and the Pirates dug themselves a big hole.
Locke allowed a three-run homer to Chicago rookie Kris Bryant in the third inning and a two-run shot to Anthony Rizzo an inning later. For Bryant it was his fourth big league dinger, all coming within the past seven games. It was Rizzo’s eighth homer of the season.
Locke allowed five runs on six hits, walking three in just 3.2 innings of work.
Pedro Alvarez got the Pirates on the board in the fourth, with a solo shot, his sixth of the season, in the fourth to make it a 5-1 contest.
But the Cubs got that run back and more in the fifth when Szczur singled in a pair to up the Chicago lead to 7-1.
The Pirates got back in the game though in the sixth.
Cervelli hit a bases-loaded double to pull the Bucs within 7-4 and Corey Hart followed with a pinch hit RBI single to cut the deficit to 7-5. The Pirates then loaded the bases with two out for Andrew McCutchen, but McCutchen flew out to right to end the threat, which proved to be a big moment in the game.
Chicago didn’t waste time padding their lead as Jorge Soler made it 8-5 with an RBI single off Jared Hughes in the sixth and both Rizzo and Bryant drove in runs off Hughes in the seventh to give the Cubs a 10-5 advantage.
Hughes was ineffective for a change, allowing three runs on three hits and a pair of walks in two innings of work.
Josh Harrison tacked on a solo shot in the eighth, and McCutchen smacked a three-run shot later in the inning to pull the Pirates within 10-9.
Tony Watson retired the Cubs in order in the eighth, giving the Pirates a chance and they took advantage.
After Cubs’ closer Hector Rondon struck out the first two batters of the inning, Harrison smacked a two-out double to left. Cervelli followed with the tying single to send the game into extra innings.
The Cubs had a chance to win the game in the 10th inning with the same exact situation they had in the 12th. Szczur popped up to shallow right with the bases loaded and Polanco threw Castro out at the plate by 30 feet to extend the game.
Liz took the loss, dropping his record to 1-3 on the season. Edwin Jackson picked up the win for the Cubs, improving his mark to 2-1.
The two teams combined for 30 hits on the afternoon with each team collecting 15. Harrison led the way for the Pirates with four knocks while Alvarez and Cervelli collected three hits apiece.
The Bucs will try and break their losing streak on Saturday when the send Gerrit Cole (5-1, 2.32 ERA) to the hill. He is scheduled to be opposed by Chicago’s Jon Lester (3-2, 4.10). First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 pm.
Photo Credit: Chicago Cubs