The Chicago Cubs used a three-run sixth inning to tie the game while the Pittsburgh Pirates were using its third pitcher of the inning, Antonio Bastardo.
Bastardo [3-1] faced pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan with the bases loaded and two outs.
Coghlan grounded out on the first pitch keeping the score tied at four. The Pirates would respond following the out and won by a 7-5 score.
“The absolute biggest pitch of the night for me,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It was a real efficient one-pitch outing for Bastardo.”
Gregory Polanco once again had a chance to give the Pirates a lead with a runner in scoring position.
Facing Travis Wood [5-4], Polanco took a 2-1 pitch to right field for an RBI single which plated Francisco Cervelli. The Pirates added another run in the sixth inning and defeated the Cubs 7-5 to split the series.
Jeff Locke retired the Cubs in order on 10 pitches in the first inning, and Gregory Polanco started the bottom half of the inning with a leadoff home run. The home run was his fifth of the game and first career leadoff home run. Later in the inning Pedro Alvarez singled in Andrew McCutchen who earlier walked. Aramis Ramirez tried to score a second run on the play but was thrown out by Chris Denorfia.
The Pirates added an additional run in the third inning when McCutchen hit a 420-foot home run into the bullpen area. The homer was the 23rd Cubs starter Dan Haren had allowed this season, which ties for the fourth highest mark in the National League.
In the fourth inning, the Cubs saw Kyle Schwarber lead off with a double. He ended up scoring on an Anthony Rizzo sacrifice fly cutting the deficit to 3-1.
A Ramirez single in the fifth inning brought the Pirate advantage back up to three runs.
Prior to the sixth inning, Locke had allowed two hits. He recorded the first out that inning however he then walked Dexter Fowler. Schwarber then hit his fifth home run of the season to center field. The ball was hit high in the air and landed in the first row of seats just past McCutchen’s outstretched glove.
Two batters later and with two outs in the inning, Rizzo hit his 21st home run of the season and third career homer off Locke to tie the game. This also knocked Locke out of the game.
Jared Hughes was tasked with getting the final out but could not do so as he walked both Starlin Castro and Denorfia. Hughes now has 54 appearances on the season which tie Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist of the St. Louis Cardinals for most in all of baseball.
Bastardo faced pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan and retired him on one pitch keeping the score tied at four.
“We play here to win and we love winning so I just think when I come out I need to just do my best out there and try to get the hitter out,” Bastardo said. “That made me really happy because it supported my team and that is part of being a good teammate. They [the Cubs] lost their chance so now it’s our chance.”
Cervelli led off the bottom of the sixth with a single off Wood. Pinch-hitter Michael Morse earned a single and worked a 3-2 count in the process. Polanco then singled as Jorge Soler’s throw sailed over Schwarber’s head and into Wood’s glove. After Starling Marte walked, McCutchen hit a sacrifice fly which scored pinch-runner Sean Rodriguez.
Joakim Soria pitched the seventh inning retiring the side in order. Tony Watson allowed a leadoff single to Kris Bryant, but struck out Rizzo and got Soler to ground into a double play. Watson earned his league-leading 26th hold.
The Pirates struck for another run in the ninth inning. Francisco Cervelli led off with his third triple of the season. The triple ties Polanco for most on the team. Rodriguez then battled Jason Motte for 10 pitches before hitting a single past a drawn in infield.
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth inning and earned his league-leading 34th save of the season. He has now recorded 32 consecutive save opportunities however saw his scoreless inning streak end at 22.2 innings pitched. He allowed a leadoff single to Castro and two batters later pinch-hitter Matt Szczur hit a double off the Clemente Wall in right field placing both runners in scoring position. Addison Russell then hit an RBI ground out ending the streak. The run was the first allowed by Melancon since May 11.
Following an off day Thursday the Pirates will host a three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gerrit Cole [14-5 2.29 ERA] will face Clayton Kershaw [9-6 2.37 ERA] in the series opener. Cole is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against the Dodgers.
Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo