Now that the trade deadline is over, the Pittsburgh Pirates had the opportunity to get back to focussing on winning games and that’s exactly what they did Wednesday afternoon in Wrigley Field.
The Bucs bats woke up in the eighth inning, breaking a 2-1 game wide open with a five run frame en route to a 8-4 win, their second in as many days.
The Pirates took a much needed series in Chicago behind seven straight hits of Cubs’ reliever Shawn camp, who failed to record an out.
Josh Harrison, who got the start at second base in place on Neil Walker got the inning started with a single to right and advance to third on an Andrew McCutchen double. Garrett Jones followed with a two-run pinch hit single to make it 4-1, before going to third on a single by newcomer Travis Snider. Catcher Michael McKenry then delivered the big blow, a three-run bomb into the left-field bleachers to make it 7-1 Bucs.
Pedro Alvarez and Clint Barmes followed with singles but were left on base after Cubs manager Dale Sveum got Camp out of the game.
The Pirates actually trailed 1-0 in the game when Starlin Castro touched up Jeff Karstens for a solo shot in the bottom of the first, but Starling Marte answered with a solo shot of his own off Cubs starter Travis Wood in the third. The Bucs took the lead for good in the third when McCutchen walked, went to third on a single by Snider and came around to score on a balk by Wood.
The Pirates tacked on some insurance in the eight when Jones doubled home McCutchen, who took the National League lead in runs scored.
It wasn’t quite Tuesday night’s gem by A.J. Burnett, but the Pirates got solid pitching for the second game in a row, after being shelled in the opening game of the series.
Karstens battled through five innings, allowing only three hits and the solo home run, striking out four. He was followed by Chris Respo, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Jason Grilli, who combined to pitch three innings, allowing three hits and no runs.
Joel Hanrahan however was shelled in the ninth, allowing four straight hits as the Cubs hit for the cycle in that span, including a two-run homer by Wellington Castillo, before striking out three of the next four hitters.
The Pirates are 5-2 on this current 10-game road trip and after a day off tomorrow, begin a big series Friday in Cincinnati.
Notes: Gaby Sanchez started at first base, making his Pirates debut and drew a walk. Despite going 0-2, Sanchez had a couple good lengthy at bats….In two games with the Pirates, Snider is 3-for-9 with three runs scored and a walk….Cutch had another multi-hit game, raising his league-leading average to .373…The Pirates had 13 hits on the afternoon and in addition to McCutchen, Jones, Snider, McKenry and Alvarez also had multi-hit games.
Winning Pitcher: Jeff Karstens (4-2)
Losing Pitcher: Travis Wood (4-7)
MVP: McKenry, 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI
LVP: Hanrahan, 1.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3K
Play of the Game: Jones’ pinch-hit single in 8th gave the Bucs some breathing room
Home Runs: Castro (11), McKenry (10), Marte (2), Castillo (2)
Up Next: Friday, August 3 at Cincinnati Reds at 7:05 p.m. EST
Probable Starters: Wandy Rodriguez (7-9, 3.82 ERA) vs. Mat Latos (9-3, 4.17)