Bullpen blows lead as Chicago Cubs fall vs Pirates, 5-4


5. 4. 4. 9. Final

Russell records first RBI in 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh

Prior to today’s game, the Chicago Cubs were the only team in the majors who haven’t lost two straight games. That streak would be snapped, as Gregory Polanco and the Pittsburgh Pirates would rally their way to a 5-4 victory after hanging a three-spot in the bottom of the sixth.

During today’s loss, rookie second baseman Addison Russell recorded his very first big league extra-base hit and RBI on a double to right-center in the top of the fourth inning, extending the Cubs (8-7) lead to 4-1. After Jonathan Herrera ripped a towering fly ball to left center for a two-run triple in the second inning, the Pirates (8-8) responded with a solo home run from Sean Rodriguez off Kyle Hendricks to bring his club within one.

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Hendricks (0-0, 5.74 ERA) exited the game after 5 1/3, giving up three earned runs on five hits and two strikeouts hoping the bullpen would hold onto their 4-2 lead. That didn’t happen.

Edwin Jackson would be the man to replace Hendricks in the bottom of the sixth and had been pitching fairly well before taking the mound this afternoon. Jackson gave up two hits including the lead on a RBI line drive by Jordy Mercer who drove in Neil Walker to tie things up at 4-4.

Walker made it a 4-3 ballgame after driving a pitch up the middle, which bounced off Russell and found its way to center-fielder Kris Bryant. Bryant was also credited with a RBI after drawing a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fifth but finished the game 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the eighth.

Polanco gave Pittsburgh the 5-4 lead on a RBI single that skipped past Starlin Castro with Phil Coke on the mound. Coke was ahead 0-2 in the count before throwing three straight balls while Josh Harrison stood on second. It was an eight-pitch at-bat that was won by Polanco who guessed correctly on a four-seam fastball.

What Stood Out: 

Chicago got off to a great start. but the top half of their lineup struggled at the plate. Jorge Soler, for example, fell into a bit of a slump after his four-hit game in the opening game of this series just three days ago. He’s struck out seven times since and hasn’t recorded a RBI since last Sunday vs San Diego.

Since that huge game against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, Apr. 13, Soler has recorded 11 hits, three doubles, three RBI, five walks and 16 strikeouts in 38 at-bats. Hopefully, this weekend’s series versus the Reds will get him going again.

What’s Next:

As noted above, the Chicago Cubs will find themselves in yet another division battle in Cincinnati. Picking up tomorrow’s start will be southpaw Jon Lester, who will be making his road debut for the Cubs.

Lester (0-2, 6.89 ERA) had three straight Wrigley Field starts and failed to pick up a win in either one. So far this season, Lester has given up 12 earned runs on 24 hits with a 14/4 K/B ratio through 15 2/3 frames.

Starting opposite of Lester will be right-hander Mike Leake. Leake (0-1, 3.92 ERA) had himself a solid start against the St. Louis Cardinals this past Sunday. In eight innings of work, Leake surrendered only two earned runs on four hits while striking out three in the loss.

First pitch for tomorrow evening’s contest is scheduled for 6:10 pm central time and will be aired live on both CSN and WBBM 780.

Next: Kris Bryant To See Some Outfield Time?