With the Pittsburgh Pirates in town for a three-game weekday series, the Chicago Cubs offense was in a complete state of disarray.
On Monday’s opener, the Cubs led 4-2 before unloading on the Pirates’ pitching staff for a nine-run fifth inning that included an Anthony Rizzo 3-run home run grabbing a 13-2 lead after five.
In less than 24 hours, the Cubs found themselves on the verge of being no-hit by the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett. Pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas got the only Cubs hit with two outs in the eighth as Burnett cruised to his 13th win – only trailing the NL-leading R.A. Dickey by one win – with a complete game, one-hitter. He only walked two and struck out eight only needing 108 pitches to record the victory.
The last time the Cubs were no-hit, you have to go all the way back to September 9, 1965 as Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game. That same game however, the Cubs’ Bob Hendley one-hit Koufax’s Los Angeles Dodgers in a losing effort.
Wednesday’s rubber match had the clean-cut Travis Wood opposing Pittsburgh’s Jeff Karstens. Both pitchers went five-innings, allowed three hits and each surrendered a solo home run with Starlin Castro going deep for the Cubs in the first.
Heading into the late stages of the game, even though the Cubs were only down 2-1, a team is always in a game till the wheels completely fall off. Well, in the eighth-inning, every part of the car broke down as a five-run inning saw the Cubs chances of going for their third straight series win disappear before their eyes.
Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen both reached base to score on Garrett Jones’ pinch-hit two-RBI single. Travis Snider then followed with another single as Michael McKenry sent out a three-run blast, giving the Pirates a 7-1 cushion.
Pittsburgh extended their lead with a leadoff base hit from McCutchen in the ninth. Jones’ double to the right-field corner saw the speedy McCutchen motor on home as the Pirates closer, Joel Hanrahan, entered in a non-save situation.
Hanrahan didn’t have his normal sharp stuff allowing four straight hits to start the home half of the ninth. Bryan LaHair got things going with a double and scored on Jeff Baker’s ensuing RBI-triple. Welington Castillo crushed a two-run homer to dead center field as the Cubs got to within four. Luis Valbuena singled to complete the team cycle in the inning.
However, Hanrahan composed himself, and was finally able to get some outs as he struck out the side to keep the Pirates at pace with the division leading, Cincinnati Reds.
Series Stud: Starlin Castro, 5-for-9, 4 RBI’s, 2 HR’s
Series Dud: Shawn Camp, 0 IP, 7 hits, 5 ER’s on Wednesday
Next Up: @ Dodgers Friday-Sunday
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