ShareThis Page

Cubs complete sweep of Pirates at PNC Park

| Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, 5:39 p.m.
The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano is greeted at home by teammate Anthony Rizzo after hitting the go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning Sunday. At left is Pirates catcher Michael McKenry. The Cubs won, 4-2. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hangs his head after walking from the mound during the eighth inning Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. The Cubs won, 4-2. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)
Pirates pitcher Jason Grilli hangs his head after blowing a lead to the Cubs at PNC Park Sunday, September 9, 2012. The Cubs won the game 4-2. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen acknowledges the crowd after homering in the first inning against the Cubs on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen can't reach a fourth-inning homer by the Cubs on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review)

The Pirates aren't a team that can afford to waste offensive opportunities, but you wouldn't know it based on their game Sunday at PNC Park.

The home team squandered chance after chance en route to a 4-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs, including one last time in the ninth inning.

Brock Holt hit a leadoff single for his third hit of the game, and closer Carlos Marmol walked Starling Marte to bring Andrew McCutchen to the plate. McCutchen had hit his first home run since Aug. 15 in the first inning to give the Pirates an early lead, but this time he popped out.

Garrett Jones walked to load the bases, but Gaby Sanchez struck out and Pedro Alvarez fell into an 0-2 hole before flying out to left field to end the game.

The Pirates finished 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 13 on base.

“That would probably be at the top of the list, most definitely,” manager Clint Hurdle said of the missed opportunities.

It was the first series sweep on the road for the Cubs in more than two years, and the Pirates were the victims the last time (Aug. 1-4, 2010, in Pittsburgh).

For the Pirates, the loss was their third in a row and their seventh in the past nine games with a series at National League Central-leading Cincinnati up next. When they beat the Cubs in Chicago on Aug. 1, the Pirates were 16 games over .500. They are now just five above the break-even point.

McCutchen said he doesn't know why the Pirates haven't capitalized on their chances, but they won't help themselves by focusing on the negatives.

“It's not what's missing; it's what can I do to be better,” he said. “Whatever it is, we need to set our minds on that and not put pressure on ourselves when you come into a situation where you feel like you have to get the job done. We're a young ballclub, and I feel like the past couple days have shown us being a young ballclub, but you have to focus on doing the little things right and see what you can do.”

The Pirates put two runners on base after McCutchen's first-inning, two-out homer, but Alvarez struck out to end the inning. That scenario would repeat throughout the game.

Jeff Locke, who struck out six and walked none, gave up solo home runs to rookies Josh Vitters and Anthony Recker, and the Cubs took the lead in the fourth.

The Pirates caught a break in the seventh when Holt tripled and James Russell (7-1) was called for a balk. Still, the Pirates left two runners on when Alvarez grounded out. Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run homer off reliever Jason Grilli (1-6) in the eighth.

“At the end of the day, it's a team loss,” Hurdle said. “We're not doing enough things well as a team to win games. They played better defense than us. They pitched better than us. They hit better than us for three games. … It's time to put a foot down and win a game.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.