Kevin Correia suffered his worst outing of the year and the Pirates offense was held in check by Ryan Dempster and the Cubs bullpen.
Correia got in trouble from the opening bell. He walked Kosuke Fukudome and gave up a double to Starlin Castro. After getting two outs, he yielded a run scoring single to Marlon Byrd and then threw a wild pitch that scored Castro from third.
The Pirates had some chances in the first against Dempster. Three hits turned into zero runs. Alex Presley led off the game with a double. But he was thrown out at the plate by Fukudome after a single from Chase D’Arnaud. Neil Walker singled to put two men on, but Dempter retired Andrew McCutchen and Lyle Overbay to end the inning.
THe Cubs tacked on single runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Darwin Barney singled with one gone in the second and was bunted to third by Dempster. Fukodome’s single scored Barney to make it 3-0. Three singles in the third – the last by Alfonso Soriano – made it 4-0. The fourth inning played out like the second. Barney singled – this time leading off – and was moved to second on a successful sac bunt from Demptser. Fukudome was retired, but Castro singled in Barney. That was the final batter Correia would face. Chris Leroux got the final out of hte fourth and pitched a scoreless fifth as well.
In the meantime, the Pirates put together a couple of rallies to get back in the game. Presley tripled to start the third inning and scored one out later on a ground ball from Neil Walker. In the fourth, Garrett Jones walked and Michael McKenry and Matt Diaz hit consecutive doubles for two runs. That made it 5-3 and that was as close as Pittsburgh would get. They would get no more than one man on base the rest of the game.
The Cubs would add some breathing room in the ninth. Fukudome led off with a double and later scored on a sac fly from Carlos Pena.
Correia lasted 3-2/3 innings. He gave up five runs on nine hits and one walk. He struck out two. Dempster was the winner. He went five innings. He was charged with all three Pirate runs, which came on seven hits and three walks. He struck out four.
Presley had two more hits and also walked. McKenry and Diaz also had two knocks.
The bullpen allowed just one run in 5-1/3 innings of relief.
Bucs managed just eight hits.
Correia falls to 3-3 against the Cubs. Dempster is 8-11 against Pittsburgh.
Correia is 2-5 at home and 9-2 away from PNC. His prowess on the road makes me think of the original Road Warrior – Mel Gibson. His name came up rather unexpectedly this week. I was on vacation in Gatlinburg, TN with my extended family. I was roaming the strip in Gatlinburg wearing a Nike t-shirt with the 1970s era Pirates logo. A worker in one store looked at me with a puzzled look and asked, ‘Is that Mel Gibson on your shirt?’ After I went, ‘Huh?’, she repeated the question. Then I looked down to see the smiling Pirate from my youth and was able to tell her (in a very nice tone of voice) ‘This is the Pittsburgh Pirates logo from the 1970s and 1980s and it was produced long before anyone in the US had any idea who Mel Gibson was.’ She replied, ‘Oh. Okay.’ And that was it.
Dempster is second all-time among Canadian born pitchers with 109 wins. He trails Fergie Jenkins by more than he’ll ever get. The top five is rounded out by Kirk McCaskill, Reggie Cleveland and Russ Ford who pitched before World War I.