The Cubs (7-6) looked as if they were heading to a four-game sweep of the Pirates (5-8) on Thursday afternoon. Then an implosion in the 6th inning allowed Pittsburgh to salvage the finale of the simulated series, via MLB The Show 20.
Kris Bryant took starter Trevor Williams deep to lead off the game and give his team an immediate advantage. Jon Lester was very sharp early, scattering just three singles the first five frames, and the score remained 1-0 until Jason Heyward doubled the lead with his own solo shot in the top of the 6th.
Things fell apart in the bottom half of the inning when Lester lost his command after a Kevin Newman single just dropped in front of Ian Happ in center. A hit-by-pitch and walk followed to load the bases with one out. Big Jon retired Colin Moran, but walked Gregory Polanco to force in a run and end the big lefty’s day.
Rowan Wick took over and walked Guillermo Heredia to force in the tying run. Catcher Jacob Stallings grounded to Bryant at third, but first baseman Victor Caratini, who was spelling Anthony Rizzo, couldn’t handle the throw and the go-ahead run scored. Williams followed with a run-scoring single before the inning mercifully ended.
Alec Mills allowed two solo homers to Heredia and Adam Frazier to increase the deficit to 6-2, though the Cubs did mount a bit of a tease-rally in the top of the 9th inning. Caratini made up for his error by blasting a two-run bomb to right field and bringing up pinch-hitter Rizzo represented the tying run up against closer Keone Kela. Alas, Anthony rapped into a 5-4-3 double play to give the Burgh a 6-4 win.
Heyward – 2-for-4, HR, RBI
Bryant – 1-for-4, HR, RBI
Caratini – 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Reynolds – 2-for-4, 2B
Frazier – 1-for-4, 2 R, HR, RBI
Heredia – 1-for-3, BB, HR, 2 RBI
Williams – 6 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 2 ER, 6 K
Winning Pitcher – Williams (1-2)
Losing Pitcher – Lester (0-2)
Save – Kela (5)
Home Runs – Bryant (3), Heyward (2), Caratini (1), Heredia (2), Frazier (1)