After a terrible start to the Pirates’ last road trip of June, they entered Chicago for yet another series with the Cubs, this time at Wrigley Field. The Buccos have had great success against the Cubs so far this season, and another strong series performance couldn’t have come at a better time.
Monday, June 28: Paul Maholm pitched a brilliant game, Octavio Dotel shut down the bats in the 9th, and the struggling offense garnered just enough production to give the Pirates the opening game win over the Cubs, 2-1. Coming off his worst performance as a professional, Maholm scattered 7 hits over 8 innings while only giving up 1 run, lowering his ERA to 3.98.
After giving up a run in 2nd inning, the Pirates responded immediately in the 3rd on Andrew McCutchen’s RBI triple, scoring Jose Tabata. Then in the top of the 9th, Tabata confirmed his player of the game status, as he belted a run-scoring double to deep center, and Ryan Doumit crossed the plate to give the Pirates the lead, and the eventual victory.
Tuesday, June 29: A day after ending their 17 game road losing streak, the Pirates looked as though they were headed straight into another disappointing run after a lackluster, offense-less performance in the 2nd game of their 3-game series with the Cubs.
Starter Jeff Karstens once again pitched a solid game, giving up 2 earned runs on 7 hits through 6 innings, but the offense proved to be completely ineffective against Ted Lilly, who improved to 3-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.12, as the Cubs beat the Pirates 3-1. While the Buccos did tally 7 hits, they were scattered and run-scoring opportunities were rare on this night. Ryan Doumit, in fact, proved to be the only offensive threat, going 2-3, which included his solo blast into the left field bleachers in the 5th inning.
Alfonso Soriano was the star of the game for the Cubs, going 2-4 with 2 homeruns, which proved to be the difference in the ballgame. The victory for the Cubs was a big one for them, trying to regain some dignity against the Pirates, while also setting up the rubber match on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday, June 30: For the 3rd straight game, the Pirates’ pitching was impressive while the offense was putrid. On this day, however, the bats came alive in just enough time as they tallied 2 runs in the 8th inning on their way to their 9th win in 12 tries against Cubs, shutting them out at Wrigley, 2-0.
The headline news was that Buccos starter Brad Lincoln earned his first victory of this career. All of the scoring came in the 8th inning, as Garrett Jones doubled home Andy LaRoche, and Lastings Milledge then walked with the bases loaded to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead, which is all closer Octavio Dotel would need to close the game.
While the Pirates didn’t light up the scoreboard, they did prove to get timely hitting. Andrew McCutchen had 2 hits, while 6 other Buccos tallied a hit each, including Jones, who knocked home the go-ahead RBI, helping the Pirates win the series against the Cubbies.
So the Pirates continue their dominance over the Cubs with another series victory. They now will return home to take on the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park for a 4 game series over the 4th of July weekend. While this was a positive series for the Pirates, they still find themselves 24 games under .500, so again, it is important for fans out there to concentrate on the smaller details of the game, rather than the scoreboard or the standings.
Current Record: 27-51
And…As Always…Let’s Go Bucs!