McCutchen helps Pirates to a rare win over Cubs, Arrieta
PITTSBURGH (AP) It turns out that the Pittsburgh Pirates can indeed beat the Chicago Cubs and their ace pitcher Jake Arrieta.
Andrew McCutchen had three hits, including an RBI single during a decisive four-run seventh inning, as the Pirates rallied for a rare victory over the Cubs and last year's NL Cy Young winner, 8-4 on Friday night.
John Jaso's RBI single tied the score at 4-4 and chased Arrieta (12-4), who had beaten the Pirates in all three previous starts this season and entered with a 9-1 career record against them.
''The thing about him is he gives you opportunities,'' McCutchen said of Arrieta. ''We've had plenty of opportunities. There have been maybe a handful of times when he's faced us and he's been lights out. Today, we were able to come through in those opportunities that we got more times than not. We were getting those big hits.''
Pittsburgh beat Chicago for just the second time in 10 meetings this season.
Josh Bell, who had hit a pinch-hit single in his first major league at bat, then scored the go-ahead run from second base when first baseman Anthony Rizzo fielded Gregory Polanco's ground ball and threw wildly to reliever Travis Wood, who was covering first base, for an error.
McCutchen followed with his RBI single and Starling Marte drove in the inning's final run with a grounder. McCutchen, who finished in the top five of the NL MVP voting each of the past four seasons, raised his batting average to .244, still a career low.
Bell's hit was certainly big as it helped set up the inning.
''I'm on top of a cloud right now, I'll tell you that,'' Bell said. ''It's an incredible experience, feeling that ball come off the bat and running to first base. I can't draw it up in a better way, especially against that team and that pitcher.''
Arrieta gave up six runs and nine hits in six-plus innings while striking out six and walking one in losing for the third time in his last four outings.
''There are some positives there but giving six runs, especially the ones in the seventh, is my takeaway - not to put the nail in the coffin and maybe pitch into the eighth inning,'' Arrieta said. ''I let it get away.''
The Pirates won for the eighth time in nine games to pull 7 1/2 games behind the NL Central-leading Cubs, the closest they have been since June 1. Chicago has lost eight of nine.
Rizzo's solo home run, his 21st, off Neftali Feliz (3-0) gave the Cubs a short-lived 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh inning. Miguel Montero's fifth homer, a two-run blast in the sixth off Juan Nicasio, pulled Chicago into a tie.
Mark Melancon, the sixth Pittsburgh pitcher, got the final out for his 27th save in 28 opportunities.
David Freese had a solo home run, his 10th, off Arrieta and Sean Rodriguez added a two-run shot in the second inning, his eighth, as the Pirates took a 3-0 lead.
Jason Heyward tripled and scored the Cubs' first run in the fourth on a grounder by Javier Baez.
Pirates starter Francisco Liriano went five-plus innings and allowing two runs and three hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
The Pirates scored the game's final run in the eighth inning on Trevor Cahill's wild pitch.
Cubs: CF Dexter Fowler (strained right hamstring) began a two-game rehab assignment Friday night at Class-A South Bend, going 0 for 2 with two walks. The Cubs will determine Saturday night whether he will be able to play in the All-Star Game on Tuesday at San Diego after he was voted to the NL starting lineup by the fans.
Pirates: Polanco (strained left hamstring) left for a pinch-runner in the seventh inning. ... RHP Gerrit Cole (strained right triceps) and RHP Ryan Vogelsong (facial fractures) are scheduled to make five-inning rehab starts Sunday - Cole for Triple-A Indianapolis and Vogelsong for Double-A Altoona. It will be the second start for Cole, who has been out since June 11, and he will likely to be activated from the disabled list next weekend during a three-game series at Washington. Vogelsong, who is on the 60-day DL, will make his first start since being hit in the face by a pitch May 23 and is expected to be activated July 23. ... C Francisco Cervelli (broken left hand), who has also been on the DL since June 11, will be evaluated Sunday and could begin a rehab assignment Friday following the four-day All-Star break.
Bell was recalled from Indianapolis before the game and the switch-hitting 23-year-old first baseman will be used off the bench during the three-game series. RHP Tyler Glasnow was optioned to Indianapolis a day after making his debut against at St. Louis. He allowed four runs, three earned, in 5 1/3 innings while taking the loss.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (9-4, 2.67 ERA) will start Saturday night. He is coming off his shortest career start as he lasted just 1 1/3 innings Sunday in a loss to the New York Mets, allowing eight runs and nine hits.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-0, 4.09) will make his third career start.