Pirates' bats stay mostly silent in loss to Cubs

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May 8—The Pittsburgh Pirates fielded a lineup Friday in Wrigley Field with six batters hitting less than .237. They had scored four runs in the previous four games and hit one homer in the past six.

Recent history turned out to be a good indicator. The Pirates were shut out through eight innings before scoring twice in the ninth, but again without a home run, and settling for a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs (16-16).

Cubs starter Zach Davies entered the game with an 8.22 ERA and was familiar to the Pirates having pitched through 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers, another National League Central rival. He pitched twice previously this season against the Pirates, who knocked him around for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings April 10.

But he worked seven innings and allowed five singles — two that didn't leave the infield — and no runs Friday.

The Pirates (13-18) have lost seven of their past eight games and 16 of their past 18 at Wrigley.

Just as discouraging to manager Derek Shelton is this factoid: Throughout the season, they have shown no ability to recover from a significant deficit and are now 0-14 when trailing by three runs.

The inning Shelton won't easily forget is the seventh, when the Pirates loaded the bases with no one out and didn't score. In fact, they didn't get one ball past the pitcher's mound.

First, Todd Frazier (1 for 27 this season) grounded weakly to Davies, who got the forceout at home. Then, Ka'ai Tom did the same, only with a bit more velocity, allowing Davies to turn it into a 1-2-3 double play.

"We just couldn't barrel him up until the seventh," said catcher Jacob Stallings, who had two hits, including a double in the ninth. "If we could have scratched away one or two, it's obvious a different game for those last two innings."

In the ninth, Colin Moran singled, and Stallings bounced a ground-rule double into the seats.

Frazier grounded out for an RBI, Tom singled for another run, pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo dumped a single into shallow center field and Adam Frazier was hit by a pitch.

Suddenly, the bases were loaded again and the Pirates trailed by only one run with two out.

With the outcome at stake, Bryan Reynolds worked relief pitcher Rex Brothers to a 3-2 count before flying out to right field. It was Brothers' first save since 2013. Reynolds was 0 for 5 on Friday after reaching base in 26 of his 29 starts.

"Early, I thought we were a little impatient," Shelton said of his hitters. "A lot of first-pitch outs. We went after pitches that were pitchers' pitches.

"And I think that (Davies) did a good job once he realized that we were going to be aggressive like that, staying at the edges. And, then, I think, as the game went on, we did a better job with our approach."

Starting pitcher Trevor Cahill deserved better support, both from his fielders and the batters hitting ahead of him.

He lasted through five innings but surrendered eight hits, a walk and three runs. He dropped his ERA from 7.40 to 6.75.

Two fielding errors, one physical and one mental, turned costly, leading to a 3-0 Cubs advantage.

In the first inning, right fielder Phillip Evans dropped Anthony Rizzo's fly ball near the side wall, allowing Joc Pederson to score an unearned run.

In the third, Javier Baez led off with a single. During Rizzo's at-bat, Baez appeared to be caught between second and first. But Stallings threw to second base instead of running toward Baez, giving the runner time to return safely to first.

After Rizzo singled and Cahill threw a wild pitch, Baez scored on Matt Duffy's sacrifice fly.

In the second, David Bote singled, moved to second on Davies' sacrifice bunt and scored on Pederson's single.

"I thought he pitched fine," Shelton said. "He gave up two hard-hit balls. We dropped a ball in the first that cost him a run.

"I thought he executed well, and he got better as the game went on. With a guy like him that's a contact guy, there's days with soft contact that find holes, and (Friday) was that day."

Perhaps, hitters on both teams struggled with the wind blowing from the outfield.

"Maybe they change their approach a little bit," Cahill said. "It's just so difficult to hit a home run. I think it was more of a singles kind of game, an old-school type of day.

"So, they did a good job battling with two strikes and got some hits on some good pitches. I made some mistakes with two strikes, and they hurt me."

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at jdipaola@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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