Offense ice-cold; Pittsburgh Pirates blanked by Chicago Cubs
Pirates’ bats baffled in shutout loss
Heading into Monday’s series opener at Wrigley Field, the Pittsburgh Pirates had reeled off five-straight wins with first place in the NL Central in their sights. However, by the time it was all said and done, Jason Hammel and the Chicago Cubs not only snapped that streak, but did so in an emphatic fashion in a 4-0 win.
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Hammel (2-1) turned in eight innings of shutout ball, scattering a mere four hits and striking out seven – all without walking a single batter. Pedro Strop came in and pitched a scoreless ninth to close the door on the Bucs.
The Cubs’ right-hander was countered by veteran Vance Worley, who was hit for four runs on nine hits in just six innings of work. The biggest outburst came in the bottom of the third, when Chicago hung a three-spot on the board against Worley.
Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo opened things up with an RBI double before standout rookie third baseman Kris Bryant drove in a pair of his own to give the Cubs a 3-0 advantage. The home team added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Rizzo drove in his second run of the game on an RBI single to center, scoring Addison Russell.
For Pittsburgh (11-9), the offensive woes of Andrew McCutchen continued, as the center fielder went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, as his batting average dropped to .175. It was a sad night for the club offensively, given the fact that only two position player starters managed a base hit – with the third and fourth coming from Worley and a pinch-hitter.
Chicago (11-7) saw the one-through-four hitters in the lineup tally two hits apiece and the team went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Both Bryant and Rizzo drove in a pair of runs and both now have batting averages near the .350 mark as the end of April approaches.
Pittsburgh and Chicago will continue their series at the Friendly Confines on Tuesday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
It will be a match-up of left-handers as veteran Travis Wood (1-1, 3.24) squares off against Jeff Locke (2-0, 3.32) as Pittsburgh looks to even up the three-game series at a game apiece.