9/15 Pirates 3, Cubs 2

Francisco Liriano held the Cubs without a hit through six innings and Justin Morneau delivered a game-winning pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth to lift the Pirates to a 3-2 victory Sunday in front of 36,559 at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh remained tied for first with St. Louis in the NL Central heading into the final two weeks of regular season play. All four games between the Cubs and Pirates were decided by two runs or less, and the last three games were one-run decisions. Chicago now is 20-31 in one-run games.

Welington Castillo made it close Sunday when he smacked a two-run home run in the seventh off Liriano to tie the game at 2. But with one out in the Pirates eighth, Pedro Strop plunked Andrew McCutchen with a pitch, and he moved up on Marlon Byrd’s bloop single to center. McCutchen then tallied on Morneau’s single to left.

Liriano was tough. He threw 99 pitches through six innings, and Junior Lake connected on No. 100, recording an infield single to lead off the seventh for the first hit off the lefty. Castillo then launched pitch No. 102 into the left field seats for his seventh home run to tie the game. Darnell McDonald singled, and Liriano was lifted. It’s the first time in 24 starts that he did not get a decision.

“He’s not easy to hit,” Castillo said of Liriano. “He’s got good offspeed, and he throws it for strikes. He’s a guy you have to be aggressive against all the time because he can throw 96 and 88 [mph] and has a slider at 85, 87 [mph]. What makes him good is [all the pitches] look the same. His changeup looks like his fastball, his slider looks like his fastball. He’s been good his whole career. The approach we had to take was be aggressive and try to get him early.”

Wood took an aggressive approach, too, against the Pirates, who rank among the NL leaders in batting average against left-handed pitchers.

“They came out hacking,” Wood said. “They had a game plan and fortunately I was able to get out of [the first] giving up just one.”

Sticking to the Cubs’ coaches plan has been key for Wood this season, his first in which he’s been on a big league roster from Opening Day until the finish.

“For me, it goes back to last year when they wanted me to work both sides of the plate, arm side and glove side, and I really focused on arm side because I was predominantly glove side,” Wood said. “For me to take that into this year and make sure I can command both sides of the plate and prepare as best as I can, side sessions and everything, it’s been outstanding.”

It wasn’t hard for the Cubs staff to convince Wood to make the changes because he threw predominantly to one side of the plate.

“I knew at some point it was going to catch up to me,” Wood said.

Said Castillo: “That lineup is not easy to get through. They were jumping on him early. We had to make adjustments, and he did it.”

The Cubs head to Milwaukee with a 15-31 record since July 29. While the Pirates are prepping for the postseason, playing “We Are Family” at PNC Park, it’s wait until next year for Chicago.

“We’ve definitely made strides,” Wood said, complimenting Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer for getting players who want to be on the team. “I’m excited to finish out the season and see how we battle back next year being together for a full year.”

It may be tough for Cubs fans to accept that. Wood sees positives.

“We’ve strung together some good games,” Wood said. “I think we’ve had a season where we’ve made strides and we can hold our heads high.”

– Carrie Muskat

18 Comments

I see positives, i.e. isn’t Sveum’s contract up at the end of next season?

This late in the season it is getting harder and harder to think of something happy and positive to say! I am sure I am not the only one being so tired of these darn “one run losses”. Any loss is sorry and sad but this is the pits! BUT I will not stop rooting for every game we have left this year. Brownies and sheer willpower will be served these next few days! Eamus Catuli

Brownies and will power!???? Be sure to have some of that Cubbie Kool Aid with the brownies!!
Wake up assclown! Do you enjoy going to Wrigley Field and watching an EXPANSION team??
When was the last time you got a break from the Ricketts when it comes to tickets, food or beer!?
(Good bye Old Style-hello Budweiser!) It is really, really sad that so many fans don’t actually know
how badly they are being played for fools by the organization!!

Sheeh — I guess you don’t know about our “special Oregon brownies”:)). BUT I will tell you something — I just, with the help of my husband, took a walk around our beautiful yard with it’s glorious flowers, etc. I have multiple sclerosis and cannot walk well or travel. I would give ANYTHING TO BE ABLE TO FLY TO WRIGLEY to enjoy a Cub’s game, to eat any and all expensive treats, to hear the sounds of the bats, the cheers, the songs! For those of you who can still get to a game – stop being so negative. Yes, we have had a losing season but I have loved being able to watch every single game on my TV. I applaud our team for their efforts, I share with them the agony if their losses. I WILL NOT cast a negative spell on any of our guys who have gone onto the field every single day to entertain us. I am not a fool, I am a fan.

You can take your foot out of your mouth now.

The foot out of mouth comment was directed at Sheeh.

Right on Mat! GOOD people (i.e. White) are able to transcend a certain level and clearly show they truly love BASEBALL, not just winning, playing well, talent etc. All those attributes would be nice to have on our Cubs team and they will get there one day BUT…baseball is baseball, 9 innings, 162 games a year win or lose. It’s not called “Winball”. White is inspirational in her faith and optimism and we can learn from her comments and enthusiasm. I will be one to admit that I have NOT learned from her as much as I SHOULD have. God bless White and may God grant wisdom upon those such as Sheeh to see the light and benefit of LOVING BASEBALL.

Hold your heads high? If this orgaization is satisfied with a last place finish then good luck you bunch of losers!

Yeah, Baby!!!

They are probably not satisfied at all! With my MS I fall down a lot, get bruises, feel embarrassed and useless. BUT even with loss I HAVE to hold my head high to be able to continue the journey. I think that is what the Cubs mean – take the fall, learn along the way to avoid further bruising, hold their heads high and pursue excellence!

I’m very happy, two games ahead of Milwaukee for the 4th round pick next year. Thats very important in the overall scheme of things. I honestly would be happy if they lost every game the rest of the year. The White Sox could win 6 more giving the Cubs the 3rd pick.
Afterall, this is not the team that will start the 2015 season, so who really cares if they lose?

Are you forfeiting the 2014 season?

I guess what I stated and assumed any intelligent Cub fan would understand was: 2014 will be much like this year, until a few players are brought up July through SEP.
Thats when the youth movement will begin in my opinion. Spring of 2015 will see more of the youth making the team and the Cubs will become very competitive. That will be the start od sustained success that Theo/Hoyer explained over a year ago.
Guys like Sweeny, Bogusvic, Barney, Murphy, Boscan, Valbuena, Samardizja, Villanueva, Russell, Rusin, Raley and Gregg will be gone. Those just hanging on or extending their careers will be replaced.

I agree with Jasper Diamond. What he says makes sense and does not imply he (or I) are forfeiting anything, just accepting reality and understanding that under THESE circumstances the only GOOD thing to come from such a horrid season is next year’s draft pick. I disagree if you take that as forfeiting this season. I see it more as making lemonade from 162 lemons.

One run losses are tough to take but one needs to look from year to year. What has been the average over the last 10, or even 5 yrs? One hit or one strikeout can make a great difference in the outcome. And remember, no one is standing on the street with a gun and forcing people into Wrigley. If you like, you buy. If you no like, don’t buy. Pretty simple, really. But Rizzo I think needs a day off to get his head straight. To get doubled off first on a fly ball like that one today and he might be riding the bench until the end of the season.

I was wondering about Rizzo being doubled off….he was on third when the ball was caught or thrown in correct? Could it have been a hit and run? The ball headed toward the RF corner might have been misinterpreted by the third base coach as a hit? Not defending Rizzo just opening up the possibility that he being doubled off may have been a “team” effort…??

What about the fact that we assisted the Pirates in their quest to eke out a division win over the Cards? I have not seen anyone comment about that. We played competitive baseball and yes, there are positives we can take from the series. Pitching was excellent for most part, and our offensive struggles were once again exposed, and it underlines need to replace the underachievers. But helping stymy the Cardinals was BIG.

The fact that we can help the Pirates and hinder the Cards was expressed by myself and others on other posts. Go Pirates!!

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