Chicago Cubs fall again to Pirates, Francisco Liriano
Cubs have no ansewrs for Liriano, Pirates
The Chicago Cubs are headed to the postseason, but they sure would like a win to make the celebration feel a bit more official. The Pittsburgh Pirates got a stellar start from Francisco Liriano (12-7, 3.27) as he shut down the Cubs for 7 2/3 innings as the Pirates stretched their lead in the Wild Card to 5 1/2 games with a 4-0 win. Jason Hammel (9-7, 3.86) was sailing along until the fifth when the wheels came off. Hiss struggles still leave the Cubs with questions to who their No. 3 would be if they make a run in the playoffs.
The Cubs (89-65) looked to be locked in a pitcher’s duel early on as Hammel and Liriano were moving quickly. But the fifth was Hammel’s undoing. Five straight hits including a three-run home run by Jordy Mercer lifted the Bucs to an early lead that they would never relinquish. It was another start that saw Hammel get off to a good start only to be forced to leave the game early.
The Pirates (95-60) still believe they can catch the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and aren’t going to be content with facing the Cubs in a one game playoff. After battling injuries for much of the year, the Bucs have gotten healthy and are playing as well as any team down the stretch. Liriano held the Cubs to just four hits, two by Kris Bryant
Joe Maddon was able to get some work in for Neil Ramirez and Carl Edwards Jr., each of who could be very valuable if the Cubs can push past the Wild Card game.
The Cubs chances to host the Wild Card game are dwindling with few games remaining to make up ground. But the Cubs are a lock no matter what happens from here on out. Tomorrow’s finale will feature Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta facing off against the Pirates A.J. Burnett