Mitch Keller had trouble locating the plate and the holes in the Pirates’ lineup proved costly as the Bucs dropped a 4-3 decision to the Cubs. The loss came in spite of the Cubs getting only three hits, but Pirate pitchers walked seven.
In the first inning, Keller picked up where he left off in the spring. He walked two in a 31-pitch inning. A single and a ground out produced two runs.
Keller rebounded for a 1-2-3 second, but in the third, Ian Happ led off with a home run. Keller issued two more walks later in the inning, for four of the 15 batters he faced. He exited for a pinch hitter after taking 77 pitches to get through three innings.
The Pirates’ offense had only seven hits, all by three players. Phillip Evans had three, and Bryan Reynolds and Colin Moran each had two. The six through eight spots — Gregory Polanco, Michael Perez and Anthony Alford — plus three pinch hitters combined to go 0-for-12. The 6-8 spots in the order are now 3-for-30 on the season.
Moran largely accounted for all the offense. Zach Davies and his changeup had the Pirates baffled through the first five innings. With the score 3-0 in the top of the sixth, Reynolds hit a two-out single and Moran belted a high fly to left that just got over the basket, maybe or maybe not with some help from the wind.
After Keller was out, the bullpen did a good job once again. This may be the most recurrent game story we see this year. Chris Stratton, Kyle Crick and David Bednar all threw scoreless innings. Duane Underwood, Jr., did, too, but came out for a second inning and gave up a leadoff double to Kris Bryant. A ground ball put Bryant on third and, with the infield in, Javier Baez’ grounder went through Evans’ legs. Sam Howard came on to walk the next two hitters, loading the bases, but he got Matt Duffy to bounce into a 1-2-3 double play. The run off Underwood was illogically scored as earned.
With the score 4-2, the Pirates had their shot in the eighth against Rex Brothers. Reynolds started it again with a single and took third when Moran doubled. Evans singled hard to right to score one run and leave runners at the corners, but Polanco grounded into a double play. The Pirates did nothing in the ninth.