9/25 Cubs 4, Pirates 2

The Pirates may be headed to the postseason but the Cubs were able to celebrate one more win at home Wednesday. Darnell McDonald hit a pair of doubles and a tiebreaking three-run homer to lift the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the Pirates and close the home portion of their schedule on a positive note in front of 26,171 at Wrigley Field.

After the final out, the Cubs players and coaches tipped their caps and waved to the fans from in front of the dugout to say goodbye.

“It was a nice gesture,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “It hasn’t been a good season, but it’s nice to see the fans come out and to win the last game was nice.”

The Cubs had not beaten Pirates starter Francisco Liriano in four previous meetings, but with the game tied at 1 in the sixth, Donnie Murphy singled and Junior Lake walked to set up McDonald’s first home run since April 30, 2012. Despite their struggles this season, the Cubs lead the National League in home runs on their home turf with 102. McDonald had doubled to lead off the fourth but was easily thrown out on a bad baserunning move as he tried to advance to third on Ryan Sweeney’s fielder’s choice.

“I definitely wanted to atone for that,” McDonald said.

The Cubs would like to make up for this season. They finished 31-50 at Wrigley Field, setting a franchise record for most losses at home in a season. There were some gaffes Wednesday as Pedro Alvarez reached third on shortstop Starlin Castro’s error in the Pirates fourth, but also some highs as Murphy ended the inning with a leaping catch of Clint Barmes’ liner, then stepped on third for the double play.

Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, acquired in July from the Orioles in the Scott Feldman deal, is vying for a spot in the 2014 rotation. The right-hander gave up one run on four hits over six innings, and was able to escape the messes.

“There are going to be jams in the course of the game,” Sveum said. “The difference between guys who have a good season and sustain innings is guys who get out of those jams.”

In nine starts with the Cubs, Arrieta held opponents to a .185 batting average, striking out 37 over 51 2/3 innings. He credited the change of scenery as well as the Cubs coaching staff, beginning at Triple-A Iowa with pitching coach Mike Mason, for the improvement.

“I just feel more confident and more prepared to put together quality starts and quality outings than I was in the past,” Arrieta said. “I think that will show dividends.”

Liriano had given up four runs over 29 innings in his four previous outings against the Cubs, and on Wednesday, was charged with four runs over five-plus innings.

“We just got some balls to fall,” McDonald said of the difference against the Pirates lefty. “Liriano’s tough. He almost no-hit us the last time out. Guys got some hits early, and when you get hits, it breeds confidence in the lineup. You can’t make many mistakes against good teams and good pitchers like that. Fortunately, we were able to overcome mistakes and get the win.”

The Pirates have secured a postseason berth, but they are still jockeying for position with the Cardinals and Reds, who were eliminated from winning the NL Central with a loss Wednesday to the Nationals. The Cubs find themselves still playing a minor role as they head to St. Louis for the final three games of the season.

“We still have three games left and obviously it’s not looking good for Cincinnati and Pittsburgh right now [to win the division], but hopefully we can help them out and win Friday and see what happens the next two days,” Sveum said.

They can definitely learn from watching the Pirates.

“We’re trying to get to where these teams are at that we’re playing down the stretch,” McDonald said. “We’re watching how they go about their business, how they play the game. It’s important for us as a young team. I think every one of us in here wants to finish the season strong.”

– Carrie Muskat

10 Comments

The fans who showed up for this game deserve far more than a tip of the cap and wave from the players and coaches. Those fans are gold. They all should have been either extended free admission to today`s contest or given a voucher to any 2014 game of their choosing.

I am so glad we were able to win today ! It has been such a heart rending season for our players and for the fans but we were able to succeed today. End on a high note, wave goodbye to Wrigley until 2014, go home to rest and recoup, return to Spring training with a new outlook and a new determination to win, win, win!

If you pay your way into the ballpark, it’s not “we.” Errors in thinking & execution
should be minimized by the end of the season–not so today. Whatever Sveum’s
faults, his patience should be admired.

Very nice post if understood Darrell M.

I thought I seen White in the dugout, on television, maybe she met (we) as she was honorary bat bagger.

Jasper, you are getting funnier by the day or has senility taken a firm hold on you? :))
Maybe I can apply for the job of “bat bagger” next year. After all, I am an old bat full of Oregon brownies and 78 years worth of “snippy”!

Where have all the good cubs players gone? If Rizzo is the corner stone then we are on sinking sand. Le Hair is twice the ball player that Rizzo is maybe they should trade Rizzo to Japan and bring Brian back

Sounds like you got a wild Le Hair for Rizzo. You build with youth and that takes some patience. Today we should be rejoicing that we closed the season out at home with a nice win against a pitcher who has made our lives miserable and that the fans could enjoy for a few hours the game and positive vibes for next season. As critical as I have been about what I have seen during the season as deficiencies, this is the time to be positive about the future and respect the efforts given, despite the results. Spring will bring new hope and all players, including Rizzo will be trying to do their best to give us something to cheer about. Salute to the 2013 Cubbies for enduring, which is harder than riding a roller coaster.

Bryan “Le Hair”….. did I just travel back in time to last year or something? By the way, LaHair’s slash line in Japan this year .230/.306/.428 compared to Rizzo’s slash line with the Cubs this year .232/.323/.415. Considering that the majors are tougher and that Rizzo is 6 years younger, advantage Rizzo.

very nice stat work…. please keep it up

Protect your guy Tom. I hate the Cubs, but loved them and look at that. Thanks Carrie

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