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Chicago at Pittsburgh

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Chi. Cubs (47-65) «001300030780
Pittsburgh (54-56)0006000006101

Cubs smack three HRs to complete sweep over Pirates

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- For the Chicago Cubs, the first half of their 10-game trip felt all too much like summer dog days for a team that had the NL's second-worst record when it started.

After five games in Milwaukee and St. Louis, who could have predicted the Cubs would head home five days later on their hottest streak in 11 months?

Carlos Pena hit one of Chicago's three home runs and walked with the bases loaded during a three-run eighth-inning rally as the Cubs won their season-high fifth straight, a 7-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.

"Go figure," manager Mike Quade said of the trip. "It'll drive you nuts sometimes if you try to figure it out. That's why you keep playing."

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Pena, Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt homered to give Chicago 10 in the four-game sweep, the Cubs' first in Pittsburgh in 52 years. Chicago is on its longest winning streak since Sept. 13-19, 2010.

The Cubs hit only two home runs in those first five games of the trip but have 11 during their winning streak.

"We've got some guys that can and should hit the ball out of the ballpark from time to time," Quade said. "Maybe we haven't done enough of that this year but we did in this series. We're not built for speed. We need extra-base hits to score runs and win games."

The Pirates -- in first place in the NL Central 10 days ago -- have lost nine of 10 and a season-high seven consecutive.

Pittsburgh starter James McDonald made it through seven innings for the first time this season and had his first three career RBI during a six-run fourth.

Daniel McCutchen relieved him in the eighth and did not retire any of the three batters he faced. All of them scored.

Trailing 6-4 heading into the eighth, the Cubs' Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro began with singles. McCutchen (3-3) hit Darwin Barney with a pitch to load the bases.

"And the inning just got more complicated from there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

It sure did for Pittsburgh, which was on its fourth reliever of the inning before an out was recorded.

Aramis Ramirez followed with an RBI single off Jason Grilli, and then Joe Beimel walked Pena before Jose Veras induced a sacrifice fly from Marlon Byrd.

It was the Cubs' eighth win this season when they entered the eighth inning trailing.

Jeff Samardzija (6-4) pitched a scoreless seventh to earn the win, and Carlos Marmol worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save in the past five days and 23rd of the season.

Soto led off the third by homering for the second time in three games and 11th time this season. With nobody on and two outs in the fourth, Pena took the first pitch from McDonald into the shrubbery beyond the wall in straightaway center.

Byrd followed with a single -- his 1,000th career hit -- and he scored when DeWitt hit a towering shot to right, his third.

"It's been a tough year," Pena said, "but we're starting to play better now. We're swinging the bats well and giving our pitchers some confidence because it's easier for them when they have a big lead."

Cubs starter Rodrigo Lopez had been given a 5-0 lead in his most recent outing Saturday in St. Louis -- but he wasn't able to get out of the fifth inning and ended up taking the loss. A similar situation appeared to be playing out Thursday, as Lopez was lifted after Pittsburgh's fourth-inning outburst erased a four-run Cubs lead.

The Pirates hadn't scored more than six runs in a nine-inning game since July 10 -- but they got that many on six hits in the fourth, highlighted by McDonald's liner into the left-center field gap that cleared the bases and gave Pittsburgh its first lead. Andrew McCutchen followed with a double, scoring McDonald.

Earlier in the inning, Ryan Ludwick's first hit in 10 at-bats with Pittsburgh drove in the Pirates' first run. Ludwick later scored on a fielder's choice by Xavier Paul.

"It's how you rebound after a streak like this," Beimel said. "We're very capable of going on a streak where we win 10, 11 in a row. We've just still got to believe that, and hopefully pull it together."

Notes

  • Andrew McCutchen has reached safely in each of his past 28 games against Chicago and 31 of his past 32 home games overall.
  • Pittsburgh RHP Chris Leroux [left calf] began a rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • Ludwick is 11 for 30 (.367) in his career against San Diego's Aaron Harang, whom Pittsburgh will face to begin a three-game weekend series on Friday. Ludwick is a .301 hitter lifetime against the Padres, who traded him to the Pirates on Sunday.
  • Friday Cubs starter Ryan Dempster has won three of his past five starts but has lost his past two decisions against Cincinnati.
 
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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Marlon Byrd's hit scores the go-head run to lift the Cubs to victory, their first four-game sweep in Pittsburgh in 52 years. (AP)
Marlon Byrd's hit scores the go-head run to lift the Cubs to victory, their first four-game sweep in Pittsburgh in 52 years. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

C. Pena
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Pittsburgh

G. Jones
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Starlin Castro, SS5110011 .308
Darwin Barney, 2B3100000 .290
Aramis Ramirez, 3B4011000 .285
Carlos Pena, 1B3112110 .222
Marlon Byrd, CF3111001 .308
Blake DeWitt, LF4112002 .264
    Kerry Wood, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
Geovany Soto, C4111022 .242
Tyler Colvin, RF3000000 .124
    Jeff Samardzija, P0000000 .000
    James Russell, P0000000 .125
    Alfonso Soriano, LF1000010 .242
Rodrigo Lopez, P1000000 .083
   a- Tony Campana, PH1000000 .258
    Ramon Ortiz, P0000000 .000
    Reed Johnson, RF2120000 .325
Totals3478715  
a-flied out for Lopez in the 5th
Batting
HR - Carlos Pena (21, McDonald), Blake DeWitt (3, McDonald), Geovany Soto (11, McDonald)
SF - Marlon Byrd (1)
RBI - Aramis Ramirez (68), Carlos Pena 2 (55), Marlon Byrd (20), Blake DeWitt 2 (17), Geovany Soto (33)
2-OUT RBI - Carlos Pena (8), Blake DeWitt 2 (15)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Pena-Castro
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Rodrigo Lopez 4766200 5.17
Ramon Ortiz 2100100 6.98
Jeff Samardzija (W,6-4) 1100010 3.69
James Russell (H,3) 0.1100000 4.31
Kerry Wood (H,14) 0.2000010 3.63
Carlos Marmol (S,23) 1000010 3.68
Pitches-Strikes - Rodrigo Lopez 71-43, Ramon Ortiz 25-14, Jeff Samardzija 13-10, James Russell 8-5, Kerry Wood 6-6, Carlos Marmol 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Rodrigo Lopez 5-6, Ramon Ortiz 2-3, Jeff Samardzija 1-1, James Russell 1-0
Batters Faced - Rodrigo Lopez 20, Ramon Ortiz 7, Jeff Samardzija 4, James Russell 2, Kerry Wood 2, Carlos Marmol 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Andrew McCutchen, CF5011011 .273
Garrett Jones, 1B5120001 .236
Neil Walker, 2B4000012 .277
Ryan Ludwick, LF3111101 .234
Pedro Alvarez, 3B4110001 .212
Ryan Doumit, C4020000 .276
Xavier Paul, RF3111000 .256
   a- Matt Diaz, PH-RF1000011 .267
Brandon Wood, SS2110201 .223
James McDonald, P2113001 .100
    Daniel McCutchen, P0000000 .000
    Jason Grilli, P0000000 .000
    Joe Beimel, P0000000 .000
    Jose Veras, P0000000 .000
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
   b- Steve Pearce, PH1000000 .228
Totals34610633  
a-struck out for Paul in the 8th
b-flied out for Hanrahan in the 9th
Batting
2B - Andrew McCutchen (26, Lopez), Garrett Jones 2 (19, Lopez, Samardzija), James McDonald (1, Lopez)
SH - James McDonald (4)
RBI - Andrew McCutchen (64), Ryan Ludwick (65), Xavier Paul (16), James McDonald 3 (3)
2-OUT RBI - Andrew McCutchen (13), James McDonald 3 (3)
CS - Xavier Paul (5, 2nd base by Lopez/Soto)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Alvarez-Walker-G. Jones
E - Pedro Alvarez (11, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
James McDonald 7444033 4.23
Daniel McCutchen (L,3-3)0233000 2.70
Jason Grilli0100000 1.86
Joe Beimel (BS,2)0000100 4.35
Jose Veras 1000010 3.31
Joel Hanrahan 1100010 1.10
HBP - Barney (by Daniel McCutchen)
Pitches-Strikes - James McDonald 99-64, Daniel McCutchen 11-7, Jason Grilli 2-2, Joe Beimel 6-2, Jose Veras 10-8, Joel Hanrahan 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James McDonald 9-10, Joel Hanrahan 1-0
Batters Faced - James McDonald 26, Daniel McCutchen 3, Jason Grilli 1, Joe Beimel 1, Jose Veras 3, Joel Hanrahan 3
Game Information
Attendance - 29317
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Lance Barrett, First Base - Brian Knight, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Bob Davidson