The Pirates couldn’t give Trevor Williams much offensive support as Mike Montgomery pitched into the eighth inning, and the Bucs fell apart late in a 6-1 loss to the Cubs on Monday night at Wrigley Field.
Williams was probably a bit fortunate to allow just two runs in five innings, but he gave the Pirates a chance like last time. The Bucs did little with that chance, rolling over 10 groundouts versus one flyout and Montgomery struck out four, walked none and allowed a run on six hits in seven-plus innings.
The Cubs pushed one run across in the second for an early lead. Williams calmed things down for a bit, but they again threatened in the fifth, with runners on the corners and one out when Williams walked Kris Bryant to load the bases. Anthony Rizzo smashed a fly to center, sending Andrew McCutchen backwards, but Cutch made a leaping catch as he gingerly approached the ivy-covered bricks, and Rizzo had to settle for a sacrifice fly and a 2-0 lead. The score stayed there as Williams struck out Ian Happ looking to end the fifth.
Steven Brault did well enough in two innings of relief, but the defense came apart in the seventh. Jon Jay reached on a Sean Rodriguez error to open the seventh. Later, with runners on second and third and two outs, Brault intentionally walked Happ to get to Alex Avila, who hit a grounder to the left of the second baseman Rodriguez. Rodriguez did well to get to the ball, but, with the catcher running, unnecessarily hurried a turn and throw, wildly missing Josh Bell, who was a little too close to even react properly. Catcher Chris Stewart gathered the ball by the backstop and threw it into center field, trying to get Avila at second. The result of the play was three runs in, for a 5-0 Cubs lead, and Avila on third.
Rodriguez has been charged with four errors in two days, though he made a great leaping grab Sunday, and I thought both on Sunday errors could have been on Bell. Monday night’s sequence was incredibly frustrating, though, especially in a manageable situation.
Jordy Mercer opened the eighth with a solo homer to center to chase Montgomery. Whoop-dee-doo.
The Cubs added a run on Albert Almora’s double off Angel Sanchez in the bottom of the eighth.
Mercer finished 3-for-3. David Freese was 2-for-4.
The Cubs pulled eight games ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central.