PITTSBURGH — It looked like the Pittsburgh Pirates might snap their prolonged losing streak against the Chicago Cubs on Friday night, but another hiccup from the Bucs’ bullpen prevented that.
The Cubs (66-86) struck for four runs against the Pirates’ bullpen as they went on to defeat Pittsburgh 6-5 at PNC Park. The loss extended the Bucs’ skid to eight games.
Wil Crowe (5-11) was tasked with the sixth inning and had another rough go of it on the mound. He allowed a base hit and issued three walks, the last of which was issued to pinch hitter Franmil Reyes with the bases loaded.
Manny Bañuelos came in for Crowe and walked Zack McKinstry, the first batter he faced, plating another run for Chicago. Esteban Quiroz put the Cubs up 5-4 with an infield single.
It looked like the Cubs would score one more, but Bañuelos made an impressive play at home plate on a potential wild pitch to keep it a one-run game.
Bryan Reynolds tied the game 5-5 with a solo homer to the bushes in center in the bottom of the seventh. The blast was Reynolds’ 25th of the season, setting a new career-mark.
In the eighth inning, the Cubs had two on against Yohan Ramirez. Ramirez surrendered a two-out single to Quiroz, scoring Jared Young and putting the Cubs ahead by a run.
In total, Pirates’ pitching issued nine free passes, six of which came from the bullpen.
“We just did not execute our pitches tonight at all, I mean we walked four guys in one inning,” manager Derek Shelton said.
The Bucs had the bases loaded with two away in the ninth, but Cal Mitchell went down swinging.
After drawing a leadoff walk, Oneil Cruz stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error from Cubs catcher P.J. Higgins. Bryan Reynolds followed with an RBI single up the middle to put the Bucs ahead 1-0 in the first.
In the top of the second, Patrick Wisdom crushed a hanging slider over the left field fence, a two-run shot to put Chicago ahead 2-1.
The Pirates (55-96) quickly answered in the home half of the inning when Jack Suwinski snapped a 1 for 34 skid with a lined homer over the Clemente Wall. In addition to his homer, Suwinski drew three walks in the game.
“Good at-bats. In at least two of the at-bats on the walks he was either 0-2 or 1-2 and battled back,” Shelton said on Suwinski. “Sometimes when you get a homer it kind of relieves a little bit of pressure.”
The Bucs put up a two-spot in the third inning. Mitchell doubled home Reynolds and Kevin Newman followed with an RBI double of his own.
For Newman, the double extended his hitting streak to seven games, tying a season-high.
Starter Bryse Wilson worked around some traffic and turned in a pretty good effort on the mound for the Bucs.
Wilson allowed two runs in five innings on five hits, three walks and he struck out five batters.
“Had to battle more than usual,” Wilson said of his outing. “Other than the three walks, I was happy with where my stuff was. I was getting a lot of swing and misses, a lot of weak contact.”
Ji-hwan Bae made his major league debut. His first career hit came in the ninth inning when he bounced a single up the middle. Bae also drew a walk his first time up at the plate and stole second base on the next pitch.
Bae became the 65th player used this year by the Bucs, breaking the franchise record for players used in one season (64 players last year).
In addition to Bae’s two steals and Cruz’s steal in the first, Newman and Suwinski both swiped a bag for the Pirates.
The Pirates and Cubs will continue their four-game series on Saturday night. Johan Oviedo (3-2, 3.69 ERA) will make his fifth start with the Pirates. Veteran left-hander Wade Miley (1-1, 3.48 ERA) will get the ball for the Cubs.