Again, the Cubs could only manage a single run, by way of a solo homer. This time, the Pirates would only score in one inning, but it was all they needed as they capitalized on Tyler Chatwood’s wildness to tag him with three in the second inning en route to their first win in three games of a four game series.
Chatwood enjoyed a 1-2-3 first inning, but started off the second showing the wildness that has dogged him all year as he walked both Josh Bell and Francisco Cervelli. Chatwood then jumped ahead of Adam Frazier 0-2, but the third pitch was lined into right center field. Jason Heyward raced over to keep the ball from going to the wall, but Bell scored as Frazier sauntered into second with a double. With second and third and no one out, the Pirates then played small ball to perfection as Colin Moran grounded out to first base, driving in Cervelli, then Adeinis Hechevarria lifted a fly to right to score Frazier on the sacrifice.
Given an early 3-0 lead (more runs than the Pirates had scored in any of Joe Musgrove’s previous three starts), Musgrove promptly served up the obligatory bases empty home run to the left-hand batting Ben Zobrist in the third, cutting the lead to two.
Nail biting commenced in the fifth when Willson Contreras dropped down a bunt single with one out and then raced to third when pinch-hitter Tommy LaStella grounded the ball through the left side on a perfectly executed hit-and-run. With the tying runners on base, Addison Russell fouled off three pitches before taking a pair out of the zone, but waved at a sinking fastball at the knees for strike three. Zobrist, who had homered in his previous trip to the plate, looked at four pitches before lifting a 2-2 pitch high into center field for an easy catch. At 22 pitches, It would be the only inning in which Musgrove threw more than 12.
Musgrove cranked it up in the seventh, striking out Schwarber and Contreras to finish his night with seven punch outs vs. no walks, giving him a game score of 70.
Kyle Crick came on for the eighth, giving up a lead off single to Zobrist to again bring the tying run to the plate. Heyward lined out to left, David Bote hit a dribbler in front of the plate, then Anthony Rizzo waved at a curve diving at his back foot to end the inning.
Then it was Felipe time. Javier Baez fouled off a 99 mph fastball, but looked like he’d have nightmares after waving at two change ups out of the zone away. Schwarber didn’t fair any better, flailing at an 0-2 slider well outside. On the verge of an immaculate inning, Vazquez started Contreras with two fastballs high, but after a couple of fouls he lifted an easy fly to right to end the game.
Satisfying as the win was, after five consecutive losses it did little to help the Pirates’ fading playoff chances. It raised their record back up to .500 at 62-62, 10.0 games behind the Cubs and 6.0 out of the second Wild Card spot.
The series concludes on Sunday at 1:35 pm Eastern as yet another left-hander, Jose Quintana (10-9, 4.46) faces Jameson Taillon (9-9, 3.66), who’s allowed no more than three runs in each if his last 14 starts.