The Cubs jumped out to an early lead Thursday night against the Pirates at PNC Park before once again giving it up in the middle innings. Chicago followed a familiar script and scraped across a couple of late tallies, this time in extra innings, to take home another one-run win.
Cody Bellinger got the Cubs on the board in the top of the 1st on an RBI single against Pittsburgh’s opener, former Cub Rob Zastryzny. They added two more against Andrè Jackson in the 2nd on a Jeimer Candelario sacrifice fly and a single by Nico Hoerner.
A fielding error by starter Justin Steele set up the Pirates’ first run in the bottom of the frame on a Ji Hwan Bae base hit. Chicago’s ace caught too much of the plate agaisnt Joshua Palacios in the 3rd and he pounded a game-tying two-run homer into the Allegheny River.
Steele and Jackson both locked in after that and neither team could generate any offense. The bullpens traded zeros through nine and the contest went to extras.
The North Siders were able to get men to second and third with one out against Thomas Hatch, their former second-round draft pick, in the 10th. At that point, the much-maligned Ian Happ hit a blooper to right that landed just in front of outfielder Connor Joe to put the road team ahead 5-3.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 25, 2023
With two on and two out in the bottom of the 9th inning, Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a smash to deep left-center field off of Daniel Palencia. Bellinger went on an all-out sprint to run down the ball and make the catch to extend the game to the 10th.
Why the Cubs Won
The bullpen and defense held out just long enough for a very quiet lineup to finally wake back up and regain the lead.
Stats That Matter
- Steele made two mistakes, the error and the homer, but otherwise was very good: 6 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 6 K, and 2 R.
- Hoerner had two more hits and is heating back up after a very cold stretch.
- Nick Madrigal had a double and a single and hit both very hard.
Chicago was hitting rockets right at Pittsburgh fielders all night long, so it was fitting the knock that gave them the win was a soft blooper. The Cubs are winning games they weren’t winning in May because they just never quit. They have been emulating their division rivals in Milwaukee by doing barely enough to outlast mediocre teams in razor-close matchups. As has often been said: It doesn’t matter how you win it only matters how many you win.