Cubs Recap: Chicago’s ninth inning rally falls short in 3-2 loss


4. Final. 2. 9. 3

Cubs could still clinch with Giants loss

Pinch-hitter Chris Denorfia helped put together a ninth inning rally for the Chicago Cubs with closer Mark Melancon on the mound for the Pirates with a lead-off double to right field in today’s 3-2 loss.

Shortly after catcher Miguel Montero went down swinging on Melancon’s signature curveball for the first out of the frame, Starlin Castro came through with his second triple of the season to score Denorfia, making it a one-run ballgame.

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Skipper Joe Maddon opted to pull Castro from third and bring in speedy outfielder Quintin Berry to run for him with Jorge Soler and Javier Baez expected to come to the plate next.

Soler fought to even the count to 2-2 with a runner in scoring position but ended up swinging on the knuckle curve that hit the plate for the second out of the frame. Baez took a first called strike, fouled one off and ended the game by whiffing on the same pitch Montero and Soler failed to hold off on.

Both Jon Lester and Gerrit Cole found themselves in what felt like a postseason match-up, going blow-for-blow until they were pulled from the game after fantastic performances.

Lester (10-12, 3.43 ERA) gave up one more earned run (2) and hit (5) than his counterpart while strikeout out six batter’s across seven innings of work.

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Cole (18-8, 2.60 ERA) held the Cubs (89-64) to four hits while issuing two walks and recording eight punch outs before Pedro Alvarez entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.

Pittsburgh (94-60) grabbed the lead on an RBI single off the bat of Cole in the third inning which allowed shortstop Jordy Mercer to come around and score from second base.

Mercer put himself in scoring position with a ground-rule double to left-center field after Josh Harrison flown out to left fielder Kyle Schwarber to open up the frame.

Addison Russell tied things up when he grounded into a force out which had Anthony Rizzo thrown out at second but Kris Bryant managed to cross home plate safely.

The Pirates added two more runs on an RBI single from Michael Morse in the seventh and a ground out by Starling Marte in the eighth, giving them a 3-1 lead.

Despite the Cubs dropping Friday’s series opener, a San Francisco Giants loss to the Oakland Athletics later on this evening will erase their magic number and put them in the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Looks like we’re all rooting for the Athletics.

Next: Is Joe Maddon N.L. Manager of the Year?