After Monday’s blowout loss and lackluster production on Tuesday, the Cubs were looking to get back on track to split the four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Northsiders struck first on a solo home run by Victor Caratini in the 2nd inning, but would exchange blows with the Pirates, culminating in a towering go-ahead blast by Caratini to put them ahead 5-4 in the 7th.
However, a last-minute meltdown by the defense and Craig Kimbrel doomed the Cubs to another series loss. Javier Báez also had a game-tying solo shot during the 5th inning in this latest losing effort. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
The Cubs failed to advance and score runners from third base with less than two outs on numerous occasions tonight. In the 9th inning, they failed to make crucial defensive plays behind Kimbrel and displayed poor baseball IQ, which put the Pirates in position for a walkoff win.
In the top of the 7th, Willson Contreras reached second base with two outs on a play scored as an infield single with a throwing error by third baseman Jung Ho Kang. That brought up Caratini, who had homered in the 2nd inning. The catcher hit a homer to left field to put the Cubs ahead 5-4.
In the bottom of the 9th, Kimbrel issued a walk to Elias Díaz with one away. Kang hit a fly ball to the right field corner, but Contreras was unable to make the catch, which put the tying and winning runs into scoring position. Kimbrel induced a groundball to second base from Adam Frazier, who had collected 10 hits thus far in the series.
Instead of throwing to first to get the second out, Addison Russell inexplicably chose to throw home. The throw was high and late, which allowed Díaz to score the tying run and Kang, representing the winning run, advanced to 3rd on the play to set up the walkoff on a sacrifice fly to left field by Corey Dickerson.
Stats that Matter
- The Cubs recorded nine hits in the game, with eight men left on base.
- Caratini went 2-for-4 with three RBI and two runs scored on two home runs.
- Albert Almora Jr.’s offensive struggles continued as he went 0-for-4 with one strikeout and two LOB. Meanwhile, starting pitcher Yu Darvish went 1-for-3 with a single.
The Cubs managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on a night when a win would have pulled them back into a tie for first place with the Brewers. They have now lost four in a row, their worst losing streak since dropping six straight between March 30 and April 5.
A win Thursday will salvage the series and give the team a boost before heading back to Chicago for the conclusion of the crosstown series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The series finale is set for Thursday afternoon at 3:05pm CT at PNC Park. Southpaw José Quintana (5-7, 4.21 ERA) will take the hill for the Cubs against right-hander Jordan Lyles (5-4, 3.71 ERA). Chicago-area fans can watch on WGN and listen on 670 The Score. Out-of-market fans can watch on ESPN.