The Pittsburgh Pirates saw Jake Arrieta for the third time in as many weeks, and the results were not favorable. Arrieta had a perfect game through six innings and the Chicago Cubs avoided a sweep winning 4-0 Sunday night.
Arrieta [21-6], entered play with a 2-1 record to go with a 0.93 ERA in four starts against the Pirates. In Sunday’s contest, Arrieta pitched seven scoreless innings striking out nine batters and allowing one hit, the leadoff single from Gregory Polanco in the seventh inning to end a perfect game. In his last 11 starts, Arrieta has a 0.44 ERA.
The Pirates attempted to build off the Polanco single. Polanco stole his 27th base of the season and Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch putting two runners on, however Aramis Ramirez grounded into a double play, ending the threat.
This defeat ended an eight-game winning streak for the Pirates, which tied a season-high. The Pirates went 45-36 on the road this season, the most wins away from home since 1991.
A.J. Burnett [9-6] had a similar start to his last outing against the Cubs allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings. He was in trouble throughout the night, but for the most part, got out of it.
His biggest mistake came in the second inning when he allowed a home run on a 1-0 sinker to Arrieta, his mound counterpart. It was Arrieta’s second home run of the season and career. The fans responded with a loud ovation and Arrieta went to the dugout steps for a curtain call.
Kris Bryant’s first inning RBI single scored Dexter Fowler and represented the game’s first run. In total, Burnett left seven Cubs in scoring position, most notably getting out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning with a strikeout of Jorge Soler and a Miguel Montero ground out.
Antonio Bastardo came on in relief of Burnett in the seventh inning and allowed the first two Cubs batters to reach base. The first, a Fowler single, ended a streak of 15 consecutive batters retired by the left-handed reliever.
Jared Hughes then came on and got an out before he was replaced by Bobby LaFromboise. Anthony Rizzo flew out and McCutchen’s throw was towards the third base side of the cutoff man and allowed Austin Jackson to tag from first base.
Playing the percentages, manager Clint Hurdle elected to bring Arquimedes Caminero to pitch to Starlin Castro. The move backfired as a 2-1 fastball was initially ruled a three-run home run. The play was reviewed and ultimately overturned. Castro had to settle for a two-run double, his 20th two-base hit of the season.
With the Pirates regular season road schedule, concluded, the team faces the St. Louis Cardinals in an important three-game series beginning Monday evening. The Pirates had an opportunity to cut its deficit in the National League Central to two games, however with this loss trail by three games.
J.A. Happ [6-2 2.28 ERA] will take on Lance Lynn [12-10 3.16 ERA] in game one. Happ is 2-8 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 career starts against the Cardinals. The game will be televised by both Root Sports and ESPN.
Photo credit: Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo