The final game of the Pittsburgh Pirates opening series of the season looked very similar to the first game of the season for the Bucs as their bats were silenced by a Chicago Cubs starter only to see a furious ninth inning rally fall just short in a 3-2 loss in the series finale at PNC Park Wednesday afternoon.
However this time they couldn’t use the fact that they faced the Cubs top pitcher Jeff Samardzija as an excuse. Wednesday afternoon, they were silenced by Travis Wood, who allowed only one hit- a Clint Barmes double in the second- through six innings.
The Pirates had their own solid starting pitching though as James McDonald answered all of the questions, at least for one day, as he was just as effective as Wood.
J-Mac followed good starts by A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez by tossing seven innings of two-hit ball, striking out four in the loss.
The only two hits McDonald allowed came in the third inning when Wood grounded a single just out of the reach of Barmes. After a David DeJesus groundout moved Wood to second, Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro also grounded a single just out of the reach of Barmes to make it a 1-0 game.
Things stayed that way until the top of the ninth when Cubs right fielder Nate Schierholtz smacked a two-run homer off of Pirates’ reliever Jared Hughes to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
But the Pirates, who had only one hit entering their half of the ninth inning, showed some fight, once again off Cubs’ closer Carlos Marmol.
Starling Marte led off the inning with a single and Russell Martin followed by working a walk. Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen got the Bucs on the board with an RBI single that plated Marte. The next batter, Gaby Sanchez also delivered an RBI single to cut the Cubs lead to 3-2.
That set the Bucs up in business with runners on first and third and nobody out, but that would be as far as the Pirates could get.
Marmol struck Pedro Alvarez out on three pitches then got Pirates’ second baseman Neil Walker to bounce into a double play to end the ball game.
The Pirates will be back in action Friday night when they travel to the West Coast to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Jonathan Sanchez is scheduled to make his Pirates debut.
Winning Pitcher: Travis Wood (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: James McDonald (0-1)
Save: Carlos Marmol (1)
Home Runs: Nate Schierholtz (1)