The Pirates staged a three-run ninth-inning rally out of nowhere, but Sean Rodriguez struck out with the bases loaded to end the game, a 6-4 loss to the Cubs, on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
The rally caught me by surprise, honestly, as I'd pretty much checked out of another fairly boring game to that point. Closing the gap ended up only highlighting Gregory Polanco's error that led to two Chicago insurance runs.
Albert Almora hit a triple off Juan Nicasio with one out in the top of the ninth. Ben Zobrist grounded out sharply to first baseman David Freese, leaving Almora at third with two outs. After a walk, Tommy La Stella hit a fly ball straight at Polanco in left. Polanco, playing his first game since Friday night, apparently lost the ball in the lights. The ball hit his glove, but he dropped it and Almora scored. Javier Baez added an RBI single to give the Cubs a 6-1 lead.
A Francisco Cervelli double and two walks loaded the bases with one out against Justin Grimm in the bottom of the inning. Polanco smacked a single to left to score Cervelli, and Andrew McCutchen scored Freese and Adam Frazier with a single to center. With nothing to play for, the Cubs turned not to Aroldis Chapman but Felix Pena, who struck out Jung-Ho Kang. He intentionally walked Matt Joyce to load the bases, but fanned Rodriguez on three pitches to wriggle away.
Ryan Vogelsong, making likely his final start in a ballpark where he's seen his share of stuff, walked five and gave up four hits in five innings. He allowed four runs, three of which came on dirty old Chris Coghlan's second-inning, bases-loaded triple that was inches from being a grand slam in right-center field.
The Pirates scored a run in the bottom of the second, but missed a couple chances to pull closer. They had the bases loaded in the fourth when Jordy Mercer lined into an inning-ending double play. In the fifth, Kang struck out with runners on the corners to end the inning.