Once again, the Chicago Cubs (2-3) started a game well only to have their enigmatic bullpen relinquish the lead in the late innings. Unlike in Monday’s series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates (2-3), they weren’t able to come back late and ended up with a 7-5 loss, via MLB The Show 20.
The Cubs got going in the bottom of the 1st against Pirates left-hander Steven Brault, posting a quick crooked number on the scoreboard. Anthony Rizzo walked with one out, followed by a Javier Báez single. Kyle Schwarber struck out, but Willson Contreras walked to load the bases and Albert Almora Jr. walked to force in a run. David Bote, who had nine RBI in the second game of the season, hit a single to drive in two more.
Tyler Chatwood was in control early, holding the Pirates down in the scoring column. Meanwhile, the Cubs added more runs in support of Chatwood in the third. Contreras hit a two-run homer after a Schwarber leadoff walk, giving him his second dong in as many days against Pittsburgh. That gave Chatwood a 5-0 lead to work with and ended Brault’s outing early, as the Pirates turned once again to former Cub Derek Holland.
But the Cubs’ No. 5 starter seemed to run out of gas in the 5th inning. Gregory Polanco walked to lead off the inning, followed by singles from Jacob Stallings and Jarrod Dyson to cut the lead to 5-1. After Holland bunted the runners to second and third, Kevin Newman’s two-RBI double ended Chatwood’s day with the Cubs clinging to a 5-3 lead. The right-hander finished with 4 1/3 innings pitched, surrendering five hits, two walks, and three earned runs while striking out five.
The Pirates tacked on another run against Alec Mills the following inning, and the Cubs went to right-hander Jeremy Jeffress in the 8th. He was unable to get a single out. The Pirates loaded the bases with nobody out, leading David Ross to pull Jeffress in favor Rowan Wick. But Wick wasn’t much better, allowing two hits. Craig Kimbrel came on to get the final out of the inning to stop the bleeding, but the damage was done. The Cubs now trailed 7-5.
Meanwhile, the Cubs just couldn’t get going against the Pittsburgh bullpen. Holland pitched three shutout innings, followed by Chad Kuhl for two clean innings and Kyle Crick for one. The Cubs did attempt to mount a late rally against Keone Kela in the 9th, as Kris Bryant singled to open the frame and Báez walked to put the tying run on base with one away. But Schwarber grounded out and Contreras flew out to end the game.
Bote – 3-for-3, BB, SB, 2 RBI
Contreras – 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI
Almora – 0-for-1, BB, RBI
Newman – 2-for-5, 2B, 3 RBI
Polanco – 1-for-2, 2B, 2 BB, 2 R
Stallings – 2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI
Winning Pitcher – Crick (1-0)
Losing Pitcher – Jeffress (0-1)
Save – Kela (2)
Home Runs – Contreras (3)