Pirates get 2 big wins against Cubs
CHICAGO (AP) Lots of positive news for the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field on Saturday. They collected two wins over the Chicago Cubs, and then there was an optimistic report on the status of dynamic infielder Josh Harrison.
Francisco Liriano struck out nine in six innings, and the Pirates beat Cubs 5-0 after taking the suspended series opener in 11 innings.
''He had real good swing-and-miss stuff,'' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ''He threw a lot of pitches that looked like strikes and ended up balls. The nine Ks were big for us - and him pitching through the sixth.''
Pittsburgh began the day in third in the NL Central, five back of St. Louis and two games behind in the wild-card race.
The Pirates picked up a 5-3 victory in the resumption of Friday's series opener, stopping a four-game losing streak. Harrison finished with four hits and two RBIs, including a tiebreaking RBI single in Pittsburgh's final at-bat.
But the All-Star also re-injured his left ankle while making an over-the shoulder catch in short center field in the bottom of the 11th. He was out of the lineup for the rest of the day.
Harrison said he was fine as he made his out of the clubhouse after the two wins.
''He came down later on and would have been available to pinch hit, he said, so maybe it's not as bad as it looked,'' Hurdle said. ''We'll know more tomorrow.''
Andrew McCutchen had three hits in the second game for the Pirates, who improved to 11-4 against the Cubs this year. Jordy Mercer hit an RBI single in the first and a leadoff homer in the ninth.
Liriano (4-10) allowed three hits and walked two in his first win since July 29. The veteran left-hander went 0-3 with a 3.75 ERA in six August starts.
''They're young, but they're pretty good hitters, most of them,'' Liriano smiled. ''I know they wanted to swing the bat. I wanted to be patient and not throw the ball too far over the plate.''
Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes and Brandon Cumpton each pitched an inning to complete the six-hitter.
Felix Doubront (1-1) pitched five innings in his second game with the Cubs. The lefty, who was acquired in a July 30 trade with Boston, gave up two runs and five hits.
Friday's series opener was suspended by rain with one out in the top of the seventh inning.
Neil Walker began the 11th with a one-out double off Wesley Wright (0-3), the last of nine Cubs pitchers. Wright then walked rookie Gregory Polanco and pinch-hitter Brent Morel to load the bases before Harrison singled to center. Tony Sanchez added a pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
Mark Melancon (3-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win and rookie John Holdzkom finished for his first major league save.
In the second game, McCutchen singled and scored on Gaby Sanchez's groundout in the third, and singled in pinch-runner Chase d'Arnaud to make it 3-0 in the seventh. Chris Stewart added an RBI single in the eighth.
''We weren't able to score any runs the last half of the first game and the second game, but we'll settle back in,'' Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. ''Quite frankly, we just didn't do very much offensively today.''
BAEZ STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Chicago rookie Javier Baez struck out seven times in nine at-bats in the two games. He has fanned 58 times in 132 at-bats this season.
''We need to keep him in there and see if we can get him to trust what he was actually doing (in the minors),'' Renteria said.
Pirates: RHP Charlie Morton is scheduled to pitch a simulated game on Tuesday. He was placed on the disabled list last month with a sports hernia in his right hip. ''We need some more information before we can make an accurate read,'' Hurdle said of his short-term prospects. ... C Russell Martin finished the suspended game after he turned his left ankle on a swing the previous day. Stewart started the nightcap.
Cubs: 1B Anthony Rizzo will accompany the team on the road next week, but there is no timetable for his return. He sat out his 10th and 11th straight games because of a strained lower back. ... C Welington Castillo started the second game behind the plate after he was scratched on Friday due to tightness in his lower back. ... LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, who pitched just 3 1-3 innings on Friday due to mild cramping in his left calf, reported no further problems and was expected to make his next scheduled start.
Pirates RHP Gerrit Cole (7-5, 3.86 ERA) will oppose Cubs LHP Travis Wood (8-11, 4.81 ERA) in the series finale Sunday.