Game Recap: Gophers Continue to Haunt Pirates

The Pirates managed to get an early lead, but for the fourth straight time they allowed a multi-homer game to an opposing hitter.  That cost them their fourth straight loss, 4-3, to the Cubs.

The hitters made some early progress against Jake Arrieta.  Adam Frazier got his obligatory leadoff single and went to third on a double by Ben Gamel.  One run scored on a passed ball and a second on a Jacob Stallings single.  The Bucs made it 3-0 in the second when Will Craig doubled and later scored on a hit by Gamel.

After that, the hitters packed it in.  Two walks were all they managed from the third through the sixth.

The Cubs meanwhile came back against Cody Ponce, making his first major league appearance this year.  He got through four innings with only one run allowed, that one on a home run by Joc Pederson.  Ponce had to get past baserunners in every inning, getting help from two double plays.

Ponce couldn’t hold the Cubs back in the fifth, though.  He allowed a hit to Arrieta, then Pederson hit his second bomb of the game.  Later in the inning, a Javier Baez double and a single by Anthony Rizzo put Chicago ahead.  Ponce finished with nine hits allowed in five innings.

The Pirates’ bullpen, once again, gave the hitters a chance.  Clay Holmes, Chasen Shreve and Richard Rodriguez each threw a scoreless inning.  Sam Howard ran into some trouble in the seventh, but David Bednar got the last two outs and stranded two runners.

The bullpen work was wasted.  The Pirates had a shot in the bottom of the seventh, when Frazier walked with two outs and went to third on a double by Wilmer Difo, who was batting for Gamel.  Bryan Reynolds ended the threat with a strikeout.  Reynolds had a rough game, going 0-for-4 with three whiffs and stranding six runners.

An even better chance went by the boards in the ninth.  Cole Tucker led off with a double against Craig Kimbrel and went to third on a fly ball by Craig.  The team’s decision to load the roster with weak-hitting utility infielders bit them then, as Ildemaro Vargas fanned.  Frazier grounded out to end the game.

The Pirates finished with just seven hits and fanned 13 times.  The fifth and sixth spots continued to be a black hole.  Gregory Polanco went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, running his current slide to 2-for-19.  Erik Gonzalez was 0-for-4.  Since April 23, he’s batting 161/212/194.