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Pirates edge Cubs, 7-6

Brian Kersey

The Pirates survived two homers from Starlin Castro and a strange day from Charlie Morton to defeat the Cubs 7-6.

The Bucs scored four in the first. Starling Marte led with a double, and Andrew McCutchen walked. Pedro Alvarez then clobbered a double to right-center to bring home both runners. Russell Martin then got hit by a pitch. Neil Walker knocked a single to right to score Alvarez, and then Travis Ishikawa brought home Martin with a sacrifice fly.

Not that Charlie Morton is the world's most consistent pitcher, but you might have thought that a four-run lead against the Cubs would be all he would need. Wrong. Morton's sinker had so much movement it could have ended up anywhere, and Morton didn't seem to have much command over his breaking ball either. He wound up with five strikeouts and one walk, and of course having tons of movement on one's sinker is a good thing, but Morton still managed to get himself into a fair amount of trouble.

The Cubs got one run on Emilio Bonifacio's RBI single in the second, then three more when Morton allowed two singles and then threw a sinker that Castro bashed over the wall in left.

In the fourth, Marte singled, stole second and came home on Andrew McCutchen's single, giving the Pirates a 5-4 lead. The Pirates got another run in the fifth when Martin doubled and Ishikawa hit a triple off the right-field wall. (If cookie-cutter platoons always taste as delicious as they have so far, then I'm all for them.)

The Cubs cut the lead to one in the sixth when Morton threw an awful mistake pitch of a curveball to Castro, who took him deep once again. The Cubs tied the game the following inning, as Anthony Rizzo singled home a run off Tony Watson.

In the eighth, though, Cubs relievers walked Marte (who has five walks so far this year after having only 25 all of last year), McCutchen and Alvarez, and Russell Martin lifted a fly ball to right. I don't think the Cubs could have possibly caught Marte as he tagged, but Nate Schierholtz didn't give them a chance, throwing to third base instead as the Pirates took a 7-6 lead. With a characteristically efficient nine-pitch inning for Mark Melancon and a 1-2-3 ninth for Jason Grilli, that would be all the Pirates needed. The Bucs are now 5-2, still tied with the Brewers atop the NL Central.