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Chicago at Pittsburgh

Chi. Cubs
W: M. Morris (9-9) L: S. Trachsel (6-10)
HR: CHC - A. Soriano (24), G. Soto (1)   PIT - None

Pirates beat Cubs again, knock Chicago out of first place

CBSSports.com wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- Perhaps the Chicago Cubs should stop worrying about the Brewers and Cardinals, the teams they're competing with in the NL Central, and become more concerned with the clubs well below them in the standings.

Freddy Sanchez's bases-loaded triple highlighted Pittsburgh's six-run second inning and rookie Nyjer Morgan made an exceptional catch and drove in two runs, allowing the Pirates to knock the Cubs out of the division lead with a 10-5 victory Sunday.

Sanchez, one of the majors' hottest hitters the past six weeks, had four RBI as the Cubs' fifth loss in seven games and Milwaukee's 10-5 victory in Cincinnati put the Brewers back into the NL Central lead. Chicago had owned or shared first place since Aug. 17.

"Look, this loss here isn't life or death," manager Lou Piniella said. "We're behind, I understand. One game in the standings? If we play well enough, we'll have a chance to get back on top. If we don't, it's not going to matter."

Still, there was a sense of disappointment among the Cubs that they won only once in three games against Pittsburgh, which is two losses away from a 15th consecutive losing season.

"Our goal is to win series. We didn't win this series, so you turn the page," Derrek Lee said. "Every game is urgent right now; it's that time of the year. Every game is huge. ... We need to do a better job of winning series."

Chicago got off to a promising start, taking a 2-0 lead in the second on Jason Kendall's two-run single up the middle against Matt Morris (9-9), who had won only once in 15 starts since June 17.

But Chicago starter Steve Trachsel (0-2) lasted only two innings -- he is 1-6 since June 13 with the Cubs and Orioles -- as the Pirates came back with the pivotal six-run inning keyed by doubles from Adam LaRoche and Jack Wilson and Sanchez's three-run triple. Morgan and Steve Pearce, both of whom made their major league debuts this month, also had run-scoring singles.

"Let's not get too down about this loss. You've still got 20 games to do something," Piniella said.

Chicago has won 10 of its past 15 against the other contenders for the division title, the Brewers and Cardinals. But the Cubs have dropped seven of 12 to both the Pirates and Reds, whom they will face a combined nine times in those last 20 games.

Sanchez tried to stretch his triple into an inside-the-park homer in the second, but was thrown out at the plate on shortstop Ryan Theriot's relay throw. Sanchez added a run-scoring grounder during a three-run ninth keyed by pinch-hitter Jose Castillo's two-run double against Kerry Wood.

"I gave it my best shot, but I could feel the wheels starting to come off before I got to third base," Sanchez said. "I've never had an inside-the-park homer and I doubt I ever will. Those are for fast guys."

Morgan, a 27-year-old prospect sidelined for much of this season at Triple-A Indianapolis by a broken thumb, added another RBI single in the fourth against reliever Carmen Pignatiello for his second RBI of the game and third of his career.

Morgan's biggest contribution might have been his excellent catch against Aramis Ramirez to end the Cubs' fourth.

Morgan, playing Ramirez to pull, was shaded toward left field but raced all the way to the gap in right-center to stretch out and make the catch. Ramirez was left shaking his head in frustration, a common sight lately for the Cubs in Pittsburgh.

"It's a play I'm used to doing," Morgan said, though agreed later it wasn't a normal grab. "It was a shot that was in the gap and I expected him to hit it the other way. I just got a good read on it and I had to make a nice play."

The Cubs tried to get back into it on Alfonso Soriano's 24th home run and fourth in four games, a two-run shot off Morris, and Geovany Soto's pinch-hit home run in the seventh. But Piniella was forced to use eight pitchers during a tiring stretch in which the Cubs don't have a day off from Aug. 27 through Sept. 20.

The Cubs were supposed to be off Monday, but will return to Chicago to play a makeup game against St. Louis before going back on the road Tuesday at Houston.

"We've been playing .500 roughly for a month, or a little below," Piniella said. "Sooner or later we've got to do a little better than that."

Morris managed to last six innings despite his poor first, giving up seven hits and four runs.


  • Cubs RHP Sean Marshall, who has started 18 times this season, pitched in relief for the first time in his career, majors or minors.
  • Trachsel is 1-6 since June 13. He might have pitched his way out of the rotation only 10 days after being traded by Baltimore, with Marshall likely to resume starting.
  • Wilson had two more hits and is 16-for-26 (.615) in his past seven games.
  • Steady rain began falling at midgame but play was never stopped.
  • Pirates OF Jason Bay (right knee) will have an MRI exam on Monday.
  • Sanchez has 39 RBI since Aug. 1, the most in the NL.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Freddy Sanchez hits a bases-loaded triple, giving the Pirates a 6-2 lead in the second inning.  (AP)
Freddy Sanchez hits a bases-loaded triple, giving the Pirates a 6-2 lead in the second inning. (AP)

Players of the Game

F. Sanchez
AB 5
R 0
H 2
HR 0

J. Wilson
AB 3
R 3
H 2
HR 0

Related Video

Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano, LF5112012 .295
Ryan Theriot, SS4000000 .278
Derrek Lee, 1B4010000 .312
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010011 .315
Matt Murton, RF4120002 .270
Jacque Jones, CF3110111 .266
Mark DeRosa, 2B4000002 .287
Jason Kendall, C3012001 .245
    Scott Eyre, P0000000 .000
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
    Will Ohman, P0000000 .000
   a- Cliff Floyd, PH1000000 .281
Steve Trachsel, P1010000 .125
    Kevin Hart, P0000000 .000
    Carmen Pignatiello, P0000000 .000
   b- Mike Fontenot, PH0100100 .286
    Sean Marshall, P0000000 .071
    Michael Wuertz, P0000000 .000
    Geovany Soto, C2111010 .353
a-popped out for Ohman in the 9th
b-walked for Pignatiello in the 5th
2B - Aramis Ramirez (31, Chacon)
HR - Alfonso Soriano (24, Morris), Geovany Soto (1, R. Sanchez)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano 2 (53), Jason Kendall 2 (39), Geovany Soto (3)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Kendall 2 (20)
Team LOB - 5
Outfield Assists - Jacque Jones 1
DP - DeRosa-Theriot-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Steve Trachsel (L,6-10) 2666100 4.78
Kevin Hart 1.1211020 2.45
Carmen Pignatiello 0.2100010 4.50
Sean Marshall 1.1200100 3.92
Michael Wuertz0000100 3.64
Scott Eyre 1.2000130 4.63
Kerry Wood0233200 5.52
Will Ohman 1000100 5.08
WP - Steve Trachsel (7)
Pitches-Strikes - Steve Trachsel 47-31, Kevin Hart 19-16, Carmen Pignatiello 11-9, Sean Marshall 22-14, Michael Wuertz 7-3, Scott Eyre 24-14, Kerry Wood 21-9, Will Ohman 14-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Steve Trachsel 3-2, Kevin Hart 1-1, Sean Marshall 2-1, Will Ohman 2-1
Batters Faced - Steve Trachsel 12, Kevin Hart 6, Carmen Pignatiello 2, Sean Marshall 6, Michael Wuertz 1, Scott Eyre 5, Kerry Wood 4, Will Ohman 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nyjer Morgan, CF5122015 .267
Nate McLouth, LF3100213 .244
Freddy Sanchez, 2B5024010 .314
Adam LaRoche, 1B5110023 .269
Jose Bautista, 3B3010101 .259
Steve Pearce, RF3221101 .286
Ronny Paulino, C3110112 .258
Jack Wilson, SS3321101 .289
Matt Morris, P1110000 .212
   a- Josh Phelps, PH0000100 .317
    Romulo Sanchez, P0000000 .000
    Shawn Chacon, P0000000 .273
   b- Jose Castillo, PH1012000 .243
    Matt Capps, P00000001.000
a-walked for Morris in the 6th
b-doubled for Chacon in the 8th
2B - Adam LaRoche (33, Trachsel), Jack Wilson (27, Trachsel), Jose Castillo (16, Wood)
3B - Freddy Sanchez (3, Trachsel)
SH - Matt Morris (10)
RBI - Nyjer Morgan 2 (3), Freddy Sanchez 4 (77), Steve Pearce (2), Jack Wilson (51), Jose Castillo 2 (23)
2-OUT RBI - Nyjer Morgan (1), Freddy Sanchez 3 (31), Jack Wilson (12)
CS - Nyjer Morgan (1, 2nd base by Pignatiello/Kendall)
Team LOB - 6
DP - J. Wilson-F. Sanchez-LaRoche
Pittsburgh Pirates
Matt Morris (W,9-9) 6744221 4.59
Romulo Sanchez (H,2) 1111001 2.08
Shawn Chacon (H,10) 1100000 3.94
Matt Capps 1000020 2.10
WP - Matt Morris (4)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Morris 89-58, Romulo Sanchez 16-11, Shawn Chacon 10-7, Matt Capps 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Morris 9-6, Romulo Sanchez 2-1, Shawn Chacon 2-1
Batters Faced - Matt Morris 26, Romulo Sanchez 4, Shawn Chacon 4, Matt Capps 3
Game Information
Attendance - 21861
Game Time - 2:57
Temperature - 77
Umpires - Home - Randy Marsh, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Third Base - Sam Holbrook