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By Chad Carlson

Photo Credit: AP
Pittsburgh entered this afternoon’s game against the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field on a five-game losing streak, including a three-game sweep by the Houston Astros.  Hard times have certainly fallen on the Pirates and their fans, as the team sat 13 games under .500 entering today’s game.  Of course, there wasn’t a better place for the Pirates to snap the streak than at Wrigley, where the Bucs are 9-6 in the past two seasons at the Cubs’ ballpark.
The Pirates’ success continued today in Chicago, as Brian Burres pitched 5.1 quality innings and the bullpen held the Cubs in check, helping the Bucs earn a 3-1 victory in the opening game of the series.
Alex Presley went 3-4 with two triples, and Josh Harrison, Jose Tabata, and Garrett Jones contributed an RBI each as the Pirates outplayed Chicago in front of another huge Wrigley crowd of over 35,000.
This game featured a lot of missed opportunities, mental errors, and stranded base-runners, which is something we should expect from two teams whose combined record is 32 games under .500.
Burres pitched a solid game for Pittsburgh today, giving up one run on five hits with one walk and five strikeouts through his 5.1 innings of work.  The Cubs certainly made him work for it, though, as Burres threw 95 pitches (61 strikes) without getting out of the sixth inning, but he still was able to limit the Cubs to just one run.
The Pirates’ bullpen was equally as effective, pitching a total of 3.2 innings without surrendering a single hit.  Joel Hanrahan set the Cubs down in order in the ninth to secure the win for Pittsburgh while tallying his 33rd save of the season.
Carlos Pena’s solo homerun to lead off the second inning gave the Cubs the early lead.  Pena, of course, was one of the players that was rumored to be on the Pirates’ radar as they neared the trade deadline back in July.  The homerun in the second was his 25th of the season, and was Burres’s only major blemish of the afternoon.
The Pirates took the lead away from the Cubs in the third inning.  Presley led off the inning with a triple off the wall in right, and scored on Harrison’s RBI single.  After Neil Walker reached on a fielder’s choice, Jones hammered a double off the wall in right, scoring Walker and giving the Pirates a 2-1 victory.
After a few scoreless innings from both clubs, Presley got things started again in the seventh inning with a one-out triple, his second of the game, down the first base line.  Tabata’s two-out, RBI single scored Presley, adding to the Pirates’ lead.  Tabata was originally held out of the lineup today, but after Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch on the hand in the first inning, Clint Hurdle pulled Cutch out and replaced him with Tabata.
This was a nice start to the weekend series for the Pirates, who were in desperate need of a win.  They continue to play well in Chicago, and hopefully they can play well the rest of this series, paying back the Cubbies for the four-game sweep back in August at PNC Park.
The two teams will clash again tomorrow afternoon in game two of the series.  Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to start for the Bucs against the Cubs’ Casey Coleman.
Record Vs. Cubs: 7-7
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 32-34
Record On The Road: 32-37
Overall Record: 63-75
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!