Cumpton, bullpen combine to stifle Cubs
CHICAGO — Tony Watson did not get flustered Sunday when he bumped into the reigning Miss Nebraska in the dugout at Wrigley Field before the game against the Chicago Cubs.
“Actually, I know her father,” said Watson, who pitched at the University of Nebraska from 2005-07. “Small world, huh?”
It takes a lot to rattle Watson. The Cubs tried to do it with an eighth-inning rally, but Watson stood firm to help the Pirates escape with a 2-1 victory.
Pirates starter Brandon Cumpton tossed seven scoreless innings, matching his career high. The right-hander gave up just two hits, walked two and struck out four.
The Pirates did all their scoring in the third inning. Travis Snider hit a solo home run, and Josh Harrison delivered an RBI single off Cubs right-hander Jason Hammel (6-5).
When his pitch count reached the 70s in the sixth, Cumpton scuffled a bit. Hammel singled. Chris Coghlan walked on five pitches. Sweeney smoked a fly ball to center, but Andrew McCutchen hauled it in. Anthony Rizzo grounded out, ending the threat.
Cumpton worked a quick seventh then handed a 2-0 lead to the bullpen. Manager Clint Hurdle didn't think twice about pulling Cumpton, who threw 87 pitches, before the eighth.
“Lower pitch count, maybe,” Hurdle said. “But he was only 13 (pitches) from 100. And Watson's been very, very good.”
Going into the game, Watson hadn't allowed an earned run in his previous 242⁄3 innings. That seemed in jeopardy when the Cubs put runners on second and third with one out.
Pinch-hitter Wellington Castillo struck out on a foul tip. That left it up to Justin Ruggiano, who struck out against Watson the night before by taking a changeup for strike three.
“Whenever you face a guy on consecutive nights, in the back of their mind they're thinking and I'm thinking, too,” Watson said. “The way he took that first swing and fouled it straight back kind of told me he was waiting for the changeup. I wanted to stay hard in, be aggressive and stay with my strength.”
Watson threw five pitches to Ruggiano, all fastballs. The last one was a 95 mph four-seamer that went for a called third strike.
“That sequence was impressive,” Hurdle said. “Tony's got steely eyes out there. He knows what's at stake and just goes about his business. This guy, he could be a sniper.”
It was Watson's 19th hold, the most in the majors. The left-hander has a 0.77 ERA and has been scored upon in just three of his 35 outings.
Interim closer Mark Melancon gave up a run in the ninth but was bailed out by a good defensive play by shortstop Jordy Mercer and second baseman Harrison.
With runners at the corners and one out, Nate Schierholtz snapped his bat as he hit a bouncer to the right side. Harrison dodged the flying chunk of wood and flipped the ball high, but Mercer was able to jump up and snag the ball, then land on the bag to get an out.
“It was a slow-developing play because of the broken bat,” Mercer said. “I didn't know what Josh was going to do at first, tag him or flip to me or whatever. A weird play, but it worked out.”
Gregory Polanco went 0 for 3, snapping his 11-game hitting streak. Still, an eighth-inning walk ensured Polanco has reached base in all 12 games of his big league career.
Polanco got his first stolen base, but it had a painful price. As Polanco slid, second baseman Darwin Barney stepped on his right hand. Polanco was briefly examined by an athletic trainer and remained in the game.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.
- Pirates’ Axford overcame long odds to reach majors
- Pirates notebook: Morton hopes to return this season
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle weighs trio at 1st base
- Statistically speaking: Nationals’ Harper flailing at curveballs
- Braves’ error, Sanchez’s sacrifice fly in 9th help Pirates snap long skid
- Rossi: Pirates showing more this summer
- Wednesday’s scouting report: Braves at Pirates
- Tuesday’s scouting report: Braves at Pirates