The Pittsburgh Pirates (1-1) and Chicago Cubs (1-1) squared off for the final game of a three-game set Sunday afternoon — with the winner set to take the first series of the season. For the Pirates, Mitch Keller took to the hill; Zach Davies was called on for the Cubs.
It was the hometown team Cubs that opened up the scoring when Kris Bryant singled in the first inning, plating Ian Happ in the process, and giving Chicago the 1-0 advantage. In that same inning, Joc Pederson would ground out, but Anthony Rizzo would score on the play, furthering the Cubs’ advantage, 2-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, Happ launched a pitch from Keller into centerfield, clearing the wall for his first home run of the season, staking the Cubs to a 3-0 lead.
Ultimately, Keller would only clear three innings for Pittsburgh before making way for Chris Stratton. Keller allowed three runs on two hits and four walks. He also struck out four. Stratton would go on to deliver a scoreless fourth.
After Davies navigated five scoreless innings for Chicago, the Bucs were finally able to get on the board. In the top of the sixth inning, with a runner on base, Colin Moran went opposite field to left and brought the Pirates within a run, 3-2.
Davies would be relieved of his duties after 5.2 innings of work, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Javier Baez would reach on an error; scoring on the play was Kris Bryant, propelling the Cubs to a 4-2 lead. Duane Underwood, Jr. would be the responsible party for that fourth Chicago run.
In the top of the eighth inning, a Bryan Reynolds single was followed up by a Moran double, thus setting up the Pirates to strike back in the game with Rex Brothers on the mound and Phillip Evans at the plate. Evans would pick up his third hit of the game to score a run for Pittsburgh and draw one run nearer, closing the gap to 4-3. Gregory Polanco followed up with a 4-6-3 double play, leaving the Bucs a run back of Chicago.
David Bednar entered the eighth and kept the Cubs at bay, giving the Pirates an opportunity to strike in the ninth inning. Craig Kimbrel entered from the bullpen for Chicago. Kimbrel struck out Michael Perez before striking out Anthony Alford looking. Wilmer Difo was the last chance for Pittsburgh, but Difo lined an 0-2 pitch to Baez at short.
The Pirates drop the finale — and the series — to the Cubs by a score of 4-3.
The Pirates (1-2) will shift their focus to the Cincinnati Reds (2-1) for a three-game series at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. Game one of that series will begin Monday at 6:40, with the Pirates sending JT Brubaker to the mound, while the Reds counter with Jose De Leon. That game will be available to watch via AT&T SportsNet, or to listen via KDKA and the MLB website.