After a three hour-plus rain delay in Chicago on late Monday night, the Pirates were looking for a solid pitching performance before having to fly back to Pittsburgh for the quick turnaround on Tuesday. The club got just that as Kevin Correia held the Cubs to just two hits and the bullpen was able to close it down in the 3-0 shutout.
Correia tossed arguably his best start of the season. The right-hander held the Cubs to just two hits — both singles to second baseman Darwin Barney — over seven shutout frames. Correia walked just one and whiffed six, which tied his season-high (Also on July 14 against Milwaukee). Correia struck out the side in the first inning and went out to notch a fourth straight, before Starlin Castro grounded out to end the streak in the second.
The two lone hits that Correia allowed came from the bat of Barney. The second baseman connected for single in the third after Correia issued his only walk to Brett Jackson to start the inning. Correia was able to get a double play and a groundout to end the frame. That was the only jam that the right-hander worked himself into, as Barney singled to leadoff the sixth, but was erased on an inning ending double play.
It marked the first time since May 10th that Correia had gone seven innings, and just the third time this season. Correia was efficient, too, needing 86 pitches (58 for strikes) over his scoreless outing.
The Bucs bullpen, which has struggled recently, was able to follow Correia by tossing up two more zeros to blank the Cubs. Jason Grilli, who had been scored upon in four of his last five games and in three straight against Chicago, pitched a perfect inning in relief. Joel Hanrahan, who notched his 35th save on Saturday despite giving up two runs on three walks, was also able to shut down Chicago’s offense. Hanrahan tossed a scoreless inning of relief throwing his final pitch at 2:28 AM ET.
With the win, the Pirates split the four-game series. They also move to 2.5 games behind St. Louis for the second spot in the Wild Card and two games above .500. The 74 wins this season is the most from a Pirates team since the 2003 season when they won 75.
Marte Matches Another Former Rookie’s Feat
After Clint Barmes was hit by a pitch and Brock Holt singled to put runners on the corners and one out in the third inning, Starling Marte was able to drive in both with a triple to left field. Marte launched the ball into the gap and didn’t put on the breaks at second, sliding into third base for his third triple in as many games. Not since Andrew McCutchen was a rookie during the 2009 season in June had Pittsburgh had a player triple in three straight games.
Jose Tabata followed with a RBI double off the ivy wall in center field to drive in the third run of the frame.
Walker Gets Day off to Rest Back
Neil Walker was out of the Pirates starting lineup on Monday for the series finale in Chicago, after playing the past two games. Walker’s back “didn’t flare up”, but instead, Manager Clint Hurdle wanted to give the second baseman a break from the last two games. Both of those games were three-plus hour games, yesterday’s being a four hour game, which was a season-high.
Walker was available off the bench. Hurdle inserted rookie Brock Holt into the lineup playing second, batting eighth. Holt went 1-for-4 with a run and two strikeouts.
— With Walker on the bench getting rest, joining him was Alex Presley, who is still day-to-day after taking a pitch off his foot. Presley was also deemed available off the bench. Neither were used in the game on Monday.