After seeing James McDonald’s post All-Star break struggles continue on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Pirates needed the Erik Bedard that — after some adjustments — has been dominant his first two starts in the second half of the season on the mound in Chicago on Monday. And over the first three innings, it looked like the Pirates would get the start they needed.
Bedard struck out his first batter in each of the first three innings, but managed to give up a run to the Cubs in the first inning on an unlucky hop.
Bedard whiffed Reed Johnson on a 2-2 curveball, but the drop third strike took a bad bounce and got away from catcher Michael McKenry to allow the runner to reach first. Starlin Castro jumped on the second pitch of the next at-bat and ripped an RBI double off the ivy in left field to plate the first run. Bedard was able to leave the runner stranded as he retired his next three straight including a strikeout looking to Jeff Baker to end it.
Bedard went on to retire eight straight — which included three straight strikeouts before giving up a two out walk. The left-hander left Castro stranded when Anthony Rizzo hit a fly out to center. Bedard was cruising until he ran into trouble in the fourth.
With one out in the fourth inning, Baker singled off the lefty — just the first hit since giving up a double to his second batter of the game. The Cubs started their rally as Soto followed by drawing a walk. Darwin Barney took a 2-2 fastball left over the plate and launched it into the seats in left field for at three-run homer.
Bedard hadn’t allowed a home run over his last 14.1 innings, but quickly saw the Cubs connect for a second one in as many innings in a frame that the left-hander was unable to escape on his own.
Reed Johnson hit a grounder to third base, but Pedro Alvarez bobbled the ball for an error that started the inning. Bedard allowed a single before dishing up a three-run shot to Anthony Rizzo. The left-hander allowed two more singles before Manager Clint Hurdle went to Chris Resop from the bullpen.
Back-to-back singles drove in two more runs charged to Bedard, before Resop pushed his season ERA to 3.48 after four runs of his own. David DeJesus hit a pinch-hit chopper of the first base bag that flew into shallow right field to allow two runs to touch home. Castro followed with a two-run shot — the third off the Pirates pitching staff before Resop got Rizzo out to end the nine-run inning. 12 batters came to the plate in Pittsburgh’s highest run total allowed of the season.
The Pirates entered game action with a team 3.82 ERA in the second half of the season. The club combined for 14 runs in the 14-4 blowout on Monday. Despite the loss, Pittsburgh still remains three games back in the National League Central and are tied for the top spot in the Wild Card.
Cruz Working way Back to Bullpen
Juan Cruz is working himself back to rejoining the Pirates bullpen after being placed on the disabled list on July 18 with right shoulder inflammation.
Cruz threw a 20 pitch fastballs only on a mound on Sunday and threw long toss on Monday. The right-hander will throw a regular bullpen session on Tuesday of 25-30 pitches, using his whole arsenal. If all goes well could head out for a rehab assignment to pitch an inning, day off, inning again, then work to back-to-back days before rejoining the club.
Marte Picks up First Career Three Hit Night
Despite the offense not being able to come back in the blowout on Monday, one good sign was Starling Marte’s first three hit career night at the plate. After striking out in his first at-bat, Marte connected for three straight singles in each of his next three at-bats.
The rookie outfielder is hitting .318 since his promotion.