The surprising Tyler Anderson turned in the longest outing by a Pirate starter this year as the Bucs hung on to salvage the last game of their series at Wrigley Field, 6-5. The back end of the bullpen nearly blew a four-run lead in the ninth, but it turned out to be a good time to get some regression out of the way.
Anderson went eight innings on 102 pitches, 70 strikes. He gave up just four hits and a walk, and fanned six. On the year, he’s allowed 31 hits in 41.1 IP.
The Cubs just managed to scratch out two runs off Anderson. One came in the second on a two-out, looping line drive by Joc Pederson that drove in Kris Bryant, who’d doubled. The other scored on a ground out in the fourth. Anderson retired the last 13 batters he faced.
The Pirates had taken the lead well before any of that. They got four in the first off the pitcher formerly known as Kyle Hendricks, with some help in the field. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before anybody was retired. New cleanup hitter Jacob Stallings grounded out to drive in one run. With two out, Wilmer Difo blooped a ball to left-center. Cubs’ center fielder Jake Marisnick, chasing the ball, fell flat on his face as if he’d been harpooned by the BABIP gods. The resulting single drove in two runs. Todd Frazier then bounced a regressional grounder through the right side to send Difo to third. Troy Stokes, Jr., making his major league debut, beat out a slow grounder to short, scoring Difo. Initially ruling it a hit, the hometown scorer changed the play to an error, which was sad as it deprived Stokes of his first hit and RBI. He finished the day 0-for-4.
The Cubs’ second-inning run made it 4-1, but the Pirates picked up two more in the third, with more help. Difo tripled to drive in Erik Gonzalez, then third baseman Matt Duffy drop-kicked Todd Frazier’s grounder, letting Difo score.
With Anderson in command, the score stayed where it was apart from the Cubs’ second run. Kyle Crick came out to start the ninth, but was having one of those wild days. A hit batsman, a walk and a fly ball left runners at the corners with one out. Richard Rodriguez came on to fan the first hitter he faced, but Pederson dribbled a weak grounder through the right side to drive in one run. That was just the second hit off Rodriguez all year, the first since April 12. It wasn’t the last, though, as Ildemaro Vargas doubled to plate two more, leaving the score 6-5. Fortunately, Rodriguez got pinch hitter Javier Baez to ground out on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.
Anderson evened his record at 3-3. Difo was 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Rodriguez got his sixth save. It wasn’t the most elegant save ever, but considering that those were the first runs allowed this year by Rodriguez, or Crick for that matter, it was fair enough.