A PNC Park crowd finally got to boo Jake Arrieta as he walked off the field, and not because he was succeeding.
Everyone around here would have preferred it happened last October, but, at least Friday night, for the first time in a little while, it felt like exciting things were happening at the ballpark.
David Freese and Sean Rodriguez blasted early home runs off the suddenly mortal Arrieta, then the persistent Pirates fought back to retake the lead in the late innings and beat the Cubs, 8-4.
Staked to a 3-0 lead -- Freese hit a solo homer just above the Clemente Wall and inside the foul pole and Rodriguez had a little more impressive two-run shot to left -- Francisco Liriano was good enough, working through a couple walk-induced jams. His only damage through five innings came when Jason Heyward tripled (nearly clearing the center-field wall) and scored in the fourth.
Five innings at this point was good enough for Liriano, but with a relatively low pitch count he went out to start the sixth. Addison Russell reached on a Freese error, his second of the night, and Heyward singled. Juan Nicasio came on and induced a 6-4-3 double play, but Miguel Montero golfed his slider for a two-run homer, tying the score at 3.
Neftali Feliz struck out the first two batters of the seventh, but Anthony Rizzo then took him deep for a 4-3 Chicago lead.
With old Arrieta still out there in the seventh, Adam Frazier drew a pinch-hit walk, then Josh Bell made his major league debut with a solid pinch-hit single to right-center, sending Frazier to third. John Jaso, who we were all so disappointed to see starting in place of Bell, rapped a single to left to score Frazier and end Arrieta's night on the mound.
Lefty Travis Wood came on to face Gregory Polanco, who reached on Rizzo's throwing error on a play at first, which allowed Bell to score the go-ahead run. After another pitching change two more runs came in, as Andrew McCutchen singled and Starling Marte reached on a force out, legging it out on a potential double-play ball.
The Pirates added a run in the eighth, when Matt Joyce scored on Trevor Cahill's wild pitch.
Tony Watson pitched a scoreless eighth. A.J. Schugel ran into a little trouble with a hit and a walk with two outs in the ninth, and Mark Melancon struck out Willson Contreras for a one-out save.
Arrieta was charged with six runs and the loss -- his first since May 17, 2015, when A.J. Burnett led the Pirates to a 1-0 shutout win. Arrieta struck out six and walked one, but gave up nine hits.
McCutchen went 3-for-4, including a third-inning double.
The Pirates pulled to 7 1/2 games back of the Cubs in the NL Central. That's not exactly nervously-checking-the-rear-view territory, but the Bucs have won 11 of 14, with a decent-looking bullpen, solid offensive depth that lends itself to these kind of comeback wins. It also doesn't hurt that they helped knock their bogeyman down a peg.