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Chi. Cubs (69-67) «102010000490
Pittsburgh (54-82)001010000220

Pirates fall, become only franchise with 17 straight losing seasons

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates' not-so-magic number is zero, or the number of winning teams they've had during a record-setting run of futility over 17 forgettable seasons.

The Chicago Cubs assured the Pirates of an unwanted place in baseball's record book, getting two homers from Derrek Lee and an effective start from Ted Lilly while beating the last-place Pirates 4-2 on Monday.

By losing their 10th in 11 games, the Pirates are guaranteed of finishing below .500, just as they have every season since 1993. The 17 consecutive losing seasons represent the longest streak for any team in the four major North American pro team sports, and only the Phillies (1933-48) have also had as many as 16 in a row.

The Vancouver Canucks (NHL, 1976-91) and Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (NBA, 1983-98) had 15 consecutive losing seasons each and the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a 14-year streak (1983-96).

"We can't ignore it and say it didn't happen," said manager John Russell, whose team was dismantled by the trading of five everyday players since opening day. "We're not accepting it. We're making moves to make sure we build a championship team, and we want that to happen as soon as possible."

The present-day Pirates (54-82) are a mix of prospects and lower-paid players, and most were oblivious to the significance of the loss. Rookie starting pitcher Daniel McCutchen (0-1) didn't realize his first career loss would be the Pirates' 1,501st since the streak began, the season after former Pirates star Barry Bonds left to sign with the Giants.

In the opposing dugout, the Cubs' Lou Piniella remembered managing in Cincinnati against Bonds-led Pirates teams that averaged 96 wins from 1990-92.

"There isn't any team that wants to lose," said Piniella, whose own team hasn't won the World Series since 1908. "Some are a little more fortunate, some have more money to spend, some of them draft better players. But I'm sure this organization in the near future will start winning with more regularity. It would be great for the National League and the fans here, they've had a lot of history here and success in the past to draw on."

No recent success, for sure. The Pirates have been in a rebuilding mode under three owners, four general managers and six managers since the streak began, but no team finished better than four games under .500.

Fittingly, the song Money for Nothing was played during one inning break, which befits a team that has spent about a half billion dollars on salaries since 1993 yet has fielded only one team that went into September with an opportunity to win a division title.

Given that the Pirates' top talent is mostly in the minor leagues, it's conceivable the streak won't end in the next year or two.

"Setting a major league mark for losing hurts and it hits particularly hard for us because everyone in this organization is extraordinarily proud to be a part of a franchise that has such a long and rich history of winning," team president Frank Coonelly said.

A franchise that won five World Series from 1909-79 and sent 13 players to the Hall of Fame did not publicly mention the dubious record, and there were few eyewitnesses -- 14,673 -- on a drizzly Labor Day. The loss was the Pirates' 24th in their last 30 games against the Cubs, one of the majors' most disappointing teams this season.

Except against the Pirates, who are 2-7 against the Cubs.

Lee hit his 30th homer into the center field shrubbery with two out in the first, then hit his 31st into the front row of the left-field bleachers two innings later after Ryan Theriot's two-out single. It was Lee's second multihomer game in three days and the 22nd of his career.

"It's been a good few days," Lee said. "I definitely have been feeling good at the plate. It seems when I get a pitch, it's been going out of the ballpark."

McCutchen has surrendered three homers since being promoted to the majors on Aug. 31, each on a first pitch.

Lilly (11-8) needed 86 pitches over six innings to win for the first time in his last six road starts, with the left-hander and relievers John Grabow, Angel Guzman and Carlos Marmol combining on a two-hitter. Lilly gave up both hits, struck out seven and walked one.

Marmol pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 14 opportunities.

Andy LaRoche hit his eighth homer in the third and Brandon Moss doubled in a run in the fifth, but they couldn't prevent the Pirates from being mathematically eliminated in the NL Central race.

Notes

  • McCutchen (0-1) yielded nine hits and four runs in seven innings.
  • Chicago recalled right-hander Jeff Stevens from Triple-A Iowa for the fourth time this season. He has a 7.36 ERA in six games.
  • Chicago won for only the fourth time in its last 13 road games.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Pirates fans aren't happy as Pittsburgh finishes its 1,501st loss of the past 17 seasons.   (AP)
Pirates fans aren't happy as Pittsburgh finishes its 1,501st loss of the past 17 seasons. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

D. Lee
AB 3
R 2
H 2
HR 2
RBI 3
Chicago

T. Lilly
IP 6.0
H 2
ER 2
BB 3
K 7
 
Chicago Cubs
Kosuke Fukudome, CF4000111 .267
Ryan Theriot, SS4110000 .285
Derrek Lee, 1B3223100 .298
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4010003 .309
Milton Bradley, RF4011011 .265
Jeff Baker, 2B4010013 .297
Bobby Scales, LF4010011 .246
    Sam Fuld, LF0000000 .279
Koyie Hill, C4010012 .236
Ted Lilly, P3110021 .096
    John Grabow, P0000000 .000
    Angel Guzman, P0000000 .000
   a- Micah Hoffpauir, PH1000000 .226
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
Totals3549427  
a-fouled out for Guzman in the 9th
Batting
2B - Aramis Ramirez (13, D. McCutchen)
HR - Derrek Lee 2 (31, D. McCutchen, D. McCutchen)
SH - Ryan Theriot (11)
RBI - Derrek Lee 3 (96), Milton Bradley (39)
2-OUT RBI - Derrek Lee 3 (36), Milton Bradley (13)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Baker-Theriot-Lee
Chicago Cubs
Ted Lilly (W,11-8) 6222371 3.17
John Grabow (H,22) 1000010 3.03
Angel Guzman (H,15) 1000000 2.98
Carlos Marmol (S,10) 1000020 3.34
Pitches-Strikes - Ted Lilly 87-59, John Grabow 8-5, Angel Guzman 8-5, Carlos Marmol 13-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ted Lilly 6-4, John Grabow 2-0
Batters Faced - Ted Lilly 22, John Grabow 3, Angel Guzman 3, Carlos Marmol 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen, CF3000112 .279
Ronny Cedeno, SS4000011 .201
Garrett Jones, 1B4000020 .303
Lastings Milledge, LF4000020 .291
Ryan Doumit, C3000020 .233
Delwyn Young, 2B2100110 .275
Brandon Moss, RF3011000 .247
Andy LaRoche, 3B2111100 .247
Daniel McCutchen, P2000012 .250
    Denny Bautista, P0000000 .000
   a- Ramon Vazquez, PH1000000 .238
    Steven Jackson, P0000000 .000
Totals28222310  
a-popped out for D. Bautista in the 8th
Batting
2B - Brandon Moss (19, Lilly)
HR - Andy LaRoche (8, Lilly)
RBI - Brandon Moss (34), Andy LaRoche (49)
Team LOB - 2
Pittsburgh Pirates
Daniel McCutchen (L,0-1) 7944252 4.85
Denny Bautista 1000020 3.52
Steven Jackson 1000000 3.82
IBB - Lee by Daniel McCutchen
Pitches-Strikes - Daniel McCutchen 103-66, Denny Bautista 18-12, Steven Jackson 10-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Daniel McCutchen 8-8, Steven Jackson 1-2
Batters Faced - Daniel McCutchen 32, Denny Bautista 3, Steven Jackson 3
Game Information
Attendance - 14673
Game Time - 2:22
Temperature - 67
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Tim McClelland, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Andy Fletcher