PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Chicago Cubs spoiled J.A. Happ’s debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates Tuesday.
Pittsburgh returned the favor
Gregory Polanco led off with a home run against Dan Haren in his first start for the Cubs since being acquired from the Marlins last week. Haren gave up four runs, three earned, in five innings and the ended the Cubs’ season-best six-game winning streak.
“The first inning was no good,” Haren said. “I made a bad pitch right out of the gates and stuff got going pretty quickly there.”
Pittsburgh loaded the bases and scored another run in the first on Pedro Alvarez’s single. Andrew McCutchen homered in the third to make it 3-0.
Haren gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out three.
Manager Joe Maddon thought his team didn’t defend enough behind Haren, but that he worked well once he settled in.
“I love the way he settled down,” Maddon said. “I love the way he’s just able to navigate through problems.”
Polanco singled to break a 4-4 tie in the sixth and McCutchen added a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4.
Francisco Cervelli and Aramis Ramirez each had two hits as the Pirates won for the 12th time in their last 15 home games at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh leads the NL wild-card race by a 3 ½ games over the San Francisco Giants
The Cubs got a run in the fourth when Kyle Schwarber led off with a double and scored on first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s sacrifice fly.
The Cubs tied the game at 4 in the top of the sixth when Schwarber hit a two-run home run, his fifth, and Rizzo added a solo blast, his 21st, to chase Pittsburgh left-hander Jeff Locke.
“I walked a guy and gave up a couple of home runs,” Locke said. “That was it, short and sweet. They are an aggressive-hitting team and I left a couple of breaking pitches up and they hit them.”
Ramirez got the run back for the Pirates in the bottom of the inning when he hit an RBI through a shifted left side of the infield. Third baseman Kris Bryant and shortstop Starlin Castro both missed the grounder, which looked like it was a routine play.
“I think Kris will tell you he probably should’ve gotten it,” Maddon said. “He’s the first guy across, that’s the guy that’s normally going to get it and the shortstop backs up.”
The Pirates added an insurance run in the eighth when Cervelli tripled and scored on Sean Rodriguez’s single.
The Cubs got within two runs in the ninth on Addison Russell’s run-scoring ground out, but Pirates closer Mark Melancon notched his 34th save in 35 tries by striking out Dexter Fowler with a runner on second for the final out.
Chicago dropped to four games behind the Pirates in the wild card standings and hosts the Giants in a four-game series beginning Thursday night. The Cubs return to Wrigley Field after a 5-1 road trip Maddon called “tremendous.”
“There’s nothing to lament about these several days on the road,” Maddon said. “We did great. To come back today was spectacular and once again bring it back to even, then even fighting there in the ninth to get the tying run to the plate.”
Antonio Bastardo (3-1) retired the only batter he faced for the win, getting Chris Coghlan to ground out with the bases loaded to end the sixth.
Travis Wood (5-4) gave up three runs while retiring only one of four batters.