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Pirates Fall to Cubs on Controversial Call in 9th After Epic Pitchers’ Duel

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Pittsburgh Pirates, Bailey Falter

Rookie starting pitchers have been on full display between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs during their four-game series.

The trend continued on Saturday as Cubs starter Shota Imanaga threw seven-shutout innings in a pitchers’ duel against Pirates starter Bailey Falter, and it was the Cubs ultimately prevailing 1-0 on a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth inning. 

With Cody Bellinger standing on second base, Christopher Morel singled up the middle off of David Bednar (2-3). Center fielder Michael A. Taylor fired home and Bellinger was called safe on a bang-bang call at the plate.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton challenged but replay review confirmed the controversial play at the plate.  

Imanaga held the Pirates (21-26) to four hits and didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until the final inning of his outing. With two on, the left-hander struck out Taylor to end the threat. 

The rookie walked just one batter and struck out seven while lowering his season ERA to 0.84.

Falter didn’t run into any trouble until the eighth, efficiently working through the first seven innings without any stress.

The Cubs (26-21) had runners on the corners with one out for Miles Mastrobuoni, who chopped one to first baseman Connor Joe. Ian Happ broke from third on contact and was chased back to the bag by catcher Joey Bart. Bart made an excellent diving tag on Happ and held onto the ball with his bare hand through contact with the ground to ensure the out.

Colin Holderman relieved Falter to record the final out of the eighth and after issuing a walk to load the bases, struck out Patrick Wisdom on three pitches.

Falter worked a career-high 7.2 innings and allowed three hits, walked a pair and struck out two.

Hector Neris (4-0) was the winning pitcher for the Cubs.

Up Next

Mitch Keller (4-3, 3.93 ERA) will be on the mound for the Pirates in the finale of this four-game series on Sunday afternoon. Former Pirate Jameson Taillon (3-1, 1.61 ERA) will start for the Cubs. First pitch: 2:20 ET.

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