Wow. Hard to put one of these games into words. Just an emotionally-draining loss.
To quickly recap the first five innings:
– Rod Barajas hit a two-run bomb and Cutch drove in a run in the third to go up 3-1.
– Pedro Alvarez destroyed a two-run homer completely out of Wrigley Field in the fifth, and Starling Marte singled in a run.
– Joe Mather and Anthony Rizzo each hit homers in the bottom of the fifth, and Wellington Castillo drove in a run.
– Both starters – Jeff Locke and Chris Volstad – struggled and couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. After five, it was 6-5 Bucs.
OK, we’ll pick it up at the top of the sixth. Cutch, who went 2-3 with two walks and stolen bases, draws a walk to lead off the inning. With one out, Gaby Sanchez singles to right, putting two runners on for Pedro. The Cubs put in lefty Jeff Beliveau to face El Toro, who smashed a 1-2 curveball waaay over the left-center bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue. His second homer of the game made it 9-5, and gave him six multi-homer games in his career.
Rick van den Hurk enters with the four-run lead, and gives up back-to-back singles to start the inning. He walks the bases loaded, and Jared Hughes enters – still with no outs. Darwin Barney drives in one with a single, and keeps the bases loaded. Hughes falls behind Anthony Rizzo 3-1, and leaves the next pitch right over the plate. Rizzo takes advantage and gives the Cubs a 10-9 lead with a grand slam. Absolutely deflating.
Chad Qualls came in, still with no outs, and restored at little bit of order. Still three innings to go, and just a one-run deficit – very doable. And right on cue, Starling triples down the RF line to lead off the seventh. Barney made a nice play at second to retire Walker and keep Marte at third, but it was just one out. Cutch went up 3-0, but ended up striking out. Garrett Jones walked, putting runners on the corners. Gaby Sanchez, who has been one of the more consistent hitters in this collpase, came up with the tying run on third. He fell behind 1-2, and the Pirates tried a delayed double-steal. John Wehner actually called this happening, too. There are two things that seem wrong with this decision: Jones/Marte are not the two baserunners you want attempting this, and Sanchez his more than capable of getting a hit in this situation. And as you could guess, the Cubs snuffed it out. Marte broke for the plate too early, and was tagged out. That effectively ended the game.
The Cubs scored three more runs in the eighth to make it 13-9, which was the final. Unreal.
But hey, at least the Steelers won.
Pirates (73-72) – Cubs (58-88)
Win: Beliveau (1-0)
Loss: Hughes (2-2)