Darnell McDonald's sixth-inning, three-run homer led to a 4-2 defeat for Francisco Liriano and the Pirates Wednesday afternoon.
Anthony Rizzo knocked in a run in the first to make it 1-0, but Cubs starter Jake Arrieta walked in a run in the third to tie the game. Liriano cruised for a while after that, and in fact ended up with eight strikeouts against one walk in five innings. Unfortunately, that walk came in the sixth, after he'd allowed a ground ball single to leadoff hitter Donnie Murphy. Then he threw a knee-high fastball to McDonald, who bashed it to left-center.
The Pirates got one run in the ninth on an RBI triple by Jose Tabata, but Kevin Gregg struck out Marlon Byrd and Starling Marte to end the threat.
The loss means the Cardinals are a virtual lock to win the NL Central. The Pirates are still one game up on the Reds in the Wild Card race.