The Pittsburgh Pirates built an early lead at Wrigley Field on Wednesday, only to have it evaporate in the middle innings in a 10-6 loss to the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago rallied from behind sparked by a six-run 6th inning to take their second straight victory over the Bucs. For the Pirates, they will now need a victory in the series finale on Thursday to avoid a series sweep.
Osvaldo Bido made his debut for Pittsburgh on the mound, giving up one run on four hits with six strikeouts and three walks in four innings. Roansy Contreras, recently moved to the bullpen, struggled mightily in relief. He was tagged with the loss (3-6), giving up five runs on three hits and two walks in just an inning and a third. Colin Holderman was also hit hard, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk.
Drew Smyly (6-4) earned the victory for Chicago, despite getting hit hard early in the game. He gave up five runs on nine hits in six innings, before handing the ball over to the Cubs’ bullpen that shut the Bucs’ bats down in the final three frames.
Andrew McCutchen led off the game with a solo homerun to center field to put the Pirates in front immediately. His 9th homerun of the season was followed later in the inning by Carlos Santana’s fifth long ball of the year, a two-run homer that made it a 3-0 advantage.
Santana’s third RBI of the game came in the third inning, scoring Bryan Reynolds to make it a 4-1 lead for Pittsburgh, and a solo homerun by Austin Hedges, his first of the season, made it 5-1 Pittsburgh.
The Cubs made their move in the sixth inning, plating six runs to take control of the game. A two-run single by Mike Tauchman cut the lead to 5-4, and another two-run single by Ian Happ gave Chicago its first lead of the game. Dansby Swanson’s single scored another run, making it 7-5.
Santana completed his solid 4-RBI day at the plate with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, scoring Reynolds to make it 7-6. But the Cubs put the game out of reach by scoring three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. A two-run double by Seiya Suzuki and a single by Trey Mancini made it 10-6, which would be the final score.
This has been a very frustrating beginning to this road trip for Pittsburgh. The bullpen has let the team down the past two days, which is a crucial stretch here against N.L. Central opponents. Despite the rough start to the trip, the Bucs still hold first place in the division, thanks to a struggling Milwaukee Brewers’ club at the present.
After a disappointing result the past two games, the Bucs will look to avoid the series sweep on Thursday evening against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. They will face a difficult opponent on the mound, as Marcus Stroman will make the start for Chicago, occupying a 7-4 record and a 2.42 ERA for the season. Pittsburgh will send Johan Oviedo to the bump. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05pm.
Record vs. Cubs: 0-2
Record vs. N.L. Central: 10-6
Record on the Road: 16-16
Overall Record: 34-32
Let’s Go Bucs!