Cubs lose heartbreaker in series finale to Pirates


Apr 10, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman

Pedro Alvarez

(24) hits a three-run home run in the seventh inning of their game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

They say a win is a win. However, according to Cubs broadcaster Jim Deshaies, “not all losses are created equal.”

Today qualifies.

A roller coaster of a day at Wrigley Field ended with the Cubs (3-6) on the short end of a 5-4 score. For the third time straight this season the Cubs have lost two games in a three-game set. A five-run seventh inning was all the offense the Pirates (6-3) needed to will themselves to the win.

Gerrit Cole (2-0) went six innings and was the beneficiary of timely offense in getting the win. James Russell (0-1) took the loss after giving up the game-winning, three-run home run to Pedro Alvarez with two outs in the seventh inning. Cubs manager Rick Renteria played the numbers in using the lefty Russell against left-handed hitting Alvarez – Alvarez had been 2-for-11 without a home run in his career against Russell. But it was Alvarez who jumped on Russell’s first pitch – a hanging curve ball – and sent it flying out to center field.

The Pirates bullpen did the rest. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli finished the job and the Pirates will ride a happy bus to Milwaukee for their upcoming weekend series against the Brewers. Grilli got out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth by getting Emilio Bonifacio to ground out to first to end the game and garner his third save of the young season.

The Cubs were in seemingly good position throughout the day thanks to some early breaks and a stellar outing from starting pitcher Travis Wood. Wood went into the seventh inning, giving up only one run while striking out nine. At one point Wood struck out six straight Bucs hitters and looked like he was well on his way to his first win of the year.

Wood escaped trouble in the third when he struck out both Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez with the bases loaded. In the bottom of the fourth the Cubs plated three runs, including one when Starlin Castro scored on a single to left by Wellington Castillo. The throw beat Castro by a couple of steps and he appeared dead-to-rights as he slid into home. However, home umpire Mark Carlson called Castro safe on the play prompting questions as to whether or not Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez ever applied the tag after taking the ball out of his mitt – or if Castro was called safe because Sanchez had violated the new rules for blocking the plate. Either way, there was no challenge from Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle and the Cubs went up 4-0.

The Cubs will now head to St. Louis for a three-game set against the Cardinals starting tomorrow night. The Cubs will send Jeff Samardzija to the mound to try to win the first game of a series for the first time this season. First pitch is set for 7:10 CST.