The losing continued for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night as they fell 3-2 to the Chicago Cubs. However, few fans were on hand at PNC Park to see the latest defeat.
The announced attendance was 9,166, which is the number of tickets sold. However, there were about a third of that amount in the ballpark on a night when the Steelers were playing the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football.
Mitch Keller pitched well in the quiet ballpark, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Pirates from losing their seventh straight games. The Pirates fell to 55-95 and need to go 8-4 in their final 12 games to avoid a second straight 100-loss season.
Keller (5-12) looked strong in a losing effort, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Both runs came in the second inning when Christopher Morel hits a two-run double with two outs.
“The first couple of innings, I didn’t feel like I had much power behind my legs,” Keller said. “After the second inning, I kind of went in the dugout and just told myself I just needed to be more aggressive. I didn’t think anything delivery, didn’t think anything pitch-wise or anything like that. I just thought (be) more aggressive, just a mentality of being more aggressive. That was the key.”
Keller has yielded three earned runs or fewer in 17 of 20 starts since being moved back to the rotation May 31 following a brief demotion to the bullpen.
Bryan Reynolds was 3 for 3 with an intentional walk for the Pirates. Kevin Newman homered.
All-Star closer David Bednar pitched the seventh inning and gave up one run after being activated from the injured list before the game. He had been sidelined since July 30 with lower back inflammation.
The Pirates had runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth by Rodolfo Castro lined out to center field to end the game. Mark Leiter Jr. pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for his third save.
Cubs rookie Hayden Wesneski (2-1) pitched one-run ball into the seventh and had an immaculate inning, striking out the side on nine pitches in the fifth. Wesneski went through the bottom of the order, whiffing Jack Suwinski, Zack Collins and Jason Delay.
It was the 111th immaculate inning in major league history.
Christopher Morel hit a two-run double, and Michael Hermosillo had two hits for the Cubs, who won their third straight game.
Morel’s double down the left-field line with two outs in the second inning opened the scoring.
The Pirates cut the lead in half on Reynolds’ RBI single in the third inning.
Hermosillo’s run-scoring single in the seventh off Bednar restored the Cubs’ two-run lead. The Pirates countered with a leadoff home run by Newman in the bottom half of the inning to draw within a run.
The start of the game was delayed 25 minutes because of rain and momentarily in the seventh inning when the stadium lights went out.