The Pirates tried a couple of new things and at least one old thing. No thing worked as the offense sputtered behind a decent outing from Paul Maholm. The new things included two new bats in the lineup – Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. The old was Andrew McCutchen hitting leadoff. The result was just three runs, all coming on homers from Lee.
Maholm struggled with his control early on. He walked two (and stranded both) in the second inning. He plunked Reed Johnson in the third. After Starlin Castro doubled him to third, Johnson scored on a sac fly from Jeff Baker and the Cubs had a 1-0 lead.
Lee struck his first blow – a solo shot – in the bottom of the fourth off of Carlos Zambrano to tie the score. That would be the only run against Z all night.
The Pirates had some trouble on the bases. Pedro Alvarez was picked off of second to end the fourth. Maholm was on first with two outs in the fifth and was hit by a ball off the bat of Garrett Jones to end the inning.
The Cubs put up a three spot in the sixth to put the game away. It is hard to say if Maholm getting hit by a batted ball in teh bottom of the fifth had anything to do with it or not. It probably didn’t help. Castro and Baker led off with singles. Geovany Soto doubled in Castro. Marlon Byrd was given a free pass to set up a double play. But the Pirates were unable to turn two on Alfonso Soriano’s grounder and Baker scored with Byrd being forced at second for the first out. Carlos Pena lofted a sac fly to score Soto.
Pittsburgh edged back into it in the eighth against Kerry Wood. Neil Walker doubled and Lee homered for the second time to make it 4-3. But the Cubs got some insurance in the form of an RBI double from Johnson in the ninth off of Daniel McCutchen. Carlos Marmol tossed a perfect ninth to close it out.
Maholm allowed four runs on six hits in six innings. He walked three and struck out three. Zambrano also went six. He gave up one run on seven hits and three walks. He struck out five. Marmol got the save.
Welcome Ryan Ludwick and Derrek Lee!
Lee had two hits as did Walker and Alvarez.
Losing four straights.
Scoring only three runs.
Being only one game over .500.
Z was 12-8 against the Pirates coming into the game. Maholm falls to 9-3 against Chicago.
This was the 16th time that Castro has had three or more hits in 2011.
Lee has 25 career two homer games. His last was 8/15/2010 when he was a Cub and both dingers were off Kyle Lohse.
The last time the Pirates were buyers was 1997. They picked up Shawon Dunston from Chicago at the waiver deadline on 8/31/1997. He was the last Pirate to hit two homers in his Bucco debut. On 9/2/97 he hit two off of Jaret Wright in an interleague game against Cleveland.