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Pirates lose in extra innings to Cubs, 4-3

David Banks

The Pirates fell to the Cubs in extra innings Sunday, 4-3.

A.J. Burnett looked decent in his return from the disabled list, striking out three and walking two in five innings while getting good movement on his pitches.

"Nothing not to like," Clint Hurdle said. "The ball came out of his hand very crisp. He pitched efficiently."

"His command wasn't as precise as normal, but for his first day back, I liked it," Russell Martin added.

In the third, though, Carlos Villanueva led off with a weak single, and moved to third on Starlin Castro's double. Then Anthony Rizzo hit a grounder that Garrett Jones couldn't handle at first; Jones was charged with an error, and Villanueva scored. Then Castro came home on a sacrifice fly, and the Cubs held a 2-0 lead.

The Pirates came back, however -- Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen hit consecutive doubles off Villanueva in the fourth, and then Tabata doubled home Burnett (who had reached on a ground-ball single) in the fifth.

With the game tied, Burnett turned the ball over to Tony Watson, who got through the sixth without issue. With one out in the seventh, though, the Cubs brought in Scott Hairston as a pinch-hitter. Watson tends to be less vulnerable to platoon issues than most lefty relievers, but this time the lefty-killer slayed him, whacking a fastball to dead center to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead.

That's where it stayed until the ninth (thanks in part to Vin Mazzaro, who struck out the side in the eighth). The Bucs were down to their last out when Kevin Gregg threw an outside fastball that Starling Marte belted for a game-tying homer.

In extra innings, the Bucs opted to go all-in with Bryan Morris, even after Morris, who frankly hasn't pitched that well this year, allowed two straight singles to start the 11th. Morris got no help from the usually-reliable Martin (who'd gunned down a runner earlier in the game), as Martin made an awful throw to move the Cubs' two runners up to second and third with no outs. After an intentional walk, Dioner Navarro's sacrifice fly ended the game.

David Manel contributed to this post.