Pirates win, move one game ahead of Reds
CHICAGO — After sitting out the postseason for 20 years, the Pirates are not content to accept merely a wild-card spot.
“Our goal hasn't changed,” manager Clint Hurdle said Tuesday. “It's to win the division.”
That was the same message Andrew McCutchen delivered about 18 hours earlier, when the Pirates clinched their first playoff berth since 1992. McCutchen told teammates, “We'll party tonight, then we'll get ready to play tomorrow.”
Tuesday, the Pirates tugged on their jerseys in a clubhouse that still reeked of champagne. Then they went out and poured it on — with hits and runs, not sparkling wine — to crush the Chicago Cubs, 8-2.
The Pirates pounded out 12 hits, six of them for extra bases. Jordy Mercer hit a solo home run. Pedro Alvarez collected three RBI with a pair of doubles.
“It's another day at the ballpark,” McCutchen said. “We're here, ready to win. If anything, people should be a little more relaxed now. The more relaxed you are when you're playing, the easier it is to play at a high level.”
The Pirates trail the first-place Cardinals by two games in the NL Central. The Reds, who also have secured a playoff bid, are one game behind the Pirates. All three teams have four games left to play.
“(Monday) was a big day, but we know we've still got a lot of work ahead of us,” second baseman Neil Walker said. “So, we're very focused. We know what's at stake and what's still possible.”
Right-hander Gerrit Cole worked six innings and won his fourth consecutive start. Cole (10-7) is the first Pirates rookie to notch double-digit wins since Josh Fogg went 12-12 in 2002.
Cole had to work for it, though. He gave up seven hits — all singles — and worked through a tough, 34-pitch sixth inning.
“It was kind of a weird night, all night,” Cole said. “The pace of the game was slow. I felt like I had different stuff every inning. I lost my feel for the breaking ball for a couple innings. When I got it back, I lost the feel for the fastball.”
Trying to keep warm between innings — the temperature at Wrigley Field dipped into the 50s — Cole ran sprints in the tunnel leading from the dugout to the clubhouse.
“It was definitely a new challenge, with the cold weather and those long innings,” Cole said. “It was great to be able to learn from that.”
Cole gave up three straight singles to begin the third, but a running blunder by Nate Schierholtz and a double play got him out of trouble.
In the sixth, the Cubs scored a run and had the bases loaded with none out after a fielding error by shortstop Mercer. Cole struck out Dioner Navarro and pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena. Donnie Murphy hit a towering shot, but right fielder Marlon Byrd caught it on the warning track.
“He was backed up into a little bit of a corner,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “He had to do some yard work. His first-pitch strikes were good, but his putaway pitches weren't as good as they've been in the past.”
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.
- Humane Society lifts quarantine on dogs at North Side shelter
- Uniontown teen charged in shooting of friend
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Intruder in Carrick makes off with cash, weapon
- WXXP listeners, artists to recall ’80s indie-rock days at reunion show
- 1 dead, 1 injured after crash in North Point Breeze