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Pittsburgh at Chicago

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Pittsburgh (72-71)000012100481
Chi. Cubs (57-87) «00130300x791

Fading Pirates lose seventh straight

CBSSports.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs are becoming quite a problem for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pittsburgh lost its seventh straight game Friday and kept fading in the NL wild-card race as Starlin Castro hit a three-run homer that sent Chicago to a 7-4 win.

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The Pirates have dropped 11 of 13 overall. They began the day three games behind St. Louis for the final NL playoff spot.

The Cubs have won four straight against the Pirates, including a three-game sweep last weekend in Pittsburgh.

Chris Rusin (1-2) notched his first major league victory, allowing two runs in five-plus innings in his fourth career start.

"It feels good," the 25-year-old Rusin said after a cold beer shower. "I located the ball, kept the ball down and got ahead of a lot of hitters."

The Cubs led 4-3 in the sixth before Castro connected after Luis Valbuena walked and Alfonso Soriano was hit by a pitch.

"I wanted to jump on the first pitch because I knew he would throw me a fastball," Castro said. "I know the team isn't going anywhere, but we have to finish strong."

Since Castro's debut in 2010, he leads all National League players with 508 hits.

"We all know what kind of hitter he is right now," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "I was more impressed not by the home run, but by the adjustment he made. He went with no leg kick and no stride and hit a home run."

"Those are the things you look for, to see guys make adjustments. That's when you start to grow as a player," he said.

Andrew McCutchen homered in the Pittsburgh seventh, but Cubs reliever Shawn Camp tossed a perfect eighth and Carlos Marmol earned his 20th save in 22 chances. Marmol has converted 19 consecutive save tries.

Pirates starter James McDonald (12-8) struggled once again in the second half. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks. He is 2-5 in his last 10 starts.

McDonald, who also hit a batter, hurt himself with wildness. He walked three batters in the fourth before Anthony Rizzo delivered a two-run double down the right-field line and Alfonso Soriano hit an RBI single that made it 4-0.

"I didn't have any pitches today, but I've pitched in that situation where I didn't have any pitches before," McDonald said. "Walks are unacceptable. I had two outs, I should have gotten that out and been in the dugout."

The Pirates got an RBI single from Pedro Alvarez in the fifth and closed within a run in the sixth.

Gaby Sanchez singled home a run and Alvarez had an RBI grounder, but Pittsburgh left the bases loaded when James Russell struck out pinch-hitter Neil Walker.

On Aug. 8, the Pirates were 63-47, but have gone 9-24 since. They are now just a game over .500 for the first time since June 15 when they were 32-31. Pittsburgh hasn't finished with a winning record since 1992.

While the Pirates continue to fight for postseason berth, the Cubs have a magic number of their own. The victory was the Cubs' 57th, meaning six more wins lets them avoid a third 100-loss season.

"We got the magic number down," Sveum said. "These guys have a lot of pride and are trying to stay from that number."

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney was 2 for 2 with a run scored to extend his hitting streak to a career-high nine games.

Notes

  • Cubs' first-round draft pick Albert Almora took batting practice with the team at Wrigley Field prior to the game. He will report to the instructional league on Monday.
  • Alvarez (sore wrist) returned to the lineup after missing Wednesday's game. Walker (lower back tightness) did not start for the 16th consecutive game.
  • Jason Berken makes his Cubs debut Saturday against Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 3.72).
 
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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Starlin Castro (right) goes 2 for 4 with a three-run homer as the Cubs defeat the Pirates for the fourth consecutive time. (AP)
Starlin Castro (right) goes 2 for 4 with a three-run homer as the Cubs defeat the Pirates for the fourth consecutive time. (AP)

Players of the Game
Chicago

S. Castro
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 4
Pittsburgh

G. Sanchez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Brock Holt, 2B5000004 .327
Starling Marte, LF4110010 .232
   a- Jeff Clement, PH1000001 .143
Andrew McCutchen, CF4111022 .339
Garrett Jones, RF4120000 .285
Gaby Sanchez, 1B4121001 .226
Michael McKenry, C3000121 .249
Pedro Alvarez, 3B4012000 .242
Clint Barmes, SS1000101 .220
   b- Travis Snider, PH1000010 .257
    Jordy Mercer, SS0000000 .196
James McDonald, P1000011 .143
    Justin Wilson, P0000000 .000
    Chris Leroux, P0000000 .000
   c- Jose Tabata, PH1010000 .241
    Kyle McPherson, P0000000 .000
   d- Neil Walker, PH1000013 .280
    Tony Watson, P0000000 .000
    Jared Hughes, P0000000 .000
    Chad Qualls, P0000000 .000
    Bryan Morris, P0000000 .000
   e- Alex Presley, PH0000000 .238
Totals3448428  
a-grounded into a double play for Marte in the 9th
b-struck out for Barmes in the 8th
c-singled for Leroux in the 5th
d-struck out for McPherson in the 6th
e-hit by pitch for Morris in the 9th
Batting
2B - Gaby Sanchez (15, Rusin)
HR - Andrew McCutchen (27, Corpas)
RBI - Andrew McCutchen (86), Gaby Sanchez (27), Pedro Alvarez 2 (75)
2-OUT RBI - Andrew McCutchen (31)
SB - Starling Marte (5, 2nd base off Chapman/Clevenger)
CS - Starling Marte (2, 2nd base by Rusin/Clevenger)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Pedro Alvarez (23, Throwing)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
James McDonald (L,12-8) 3.2544420 4.05
Justin Wilson0100000 4.50
Chris Leroux 0.1100000 5.06
Kyle McPherson 1100010 1.54
Tony Watson 0.2011110 3.66
Jared Hughes 0.1122001 2.78
Chad Qualls 1000000 5.06
Bryan Morris 1000000 0.00
HBP - Soriano (by Jared Hughes)
Pitches-Strikes - James McDonald 83-43, Justin Wilson 2-1, Chris Leroux 7-4, Kyle McPherson 13-9, Tony Watson 18-10, Jared Hughes 6-3, Chad Qualls 13-8, Bryan Morris 9-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - James McDonald 1-8, Chris Leroux 1-0, Jared Hughes 1-0, Chad Qualls 4-0, Bryan Morris 2-1
Batters Faced - James McDonald 20, Justin Wilson 1, Chris Leroux 2, Kyle McPherson 4, Tony Watson 3, Jared Hughes 3, Chad Qualls 4, Bryan Morris 3
Chicago Cubs
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
David DeJesus, RF4110113 .265
Luis Valbuena, 3B3310201 .217
Anthony Rizzo, 1B4012102 .292
Alfonso Soriano, LF4111013 .260
    Tony Campana, LF0000000 .262
Starlin Castro, SS4124004 .281
Steve Clevenger, C4000001 .206
Brett Jackson, CF4000020 .184
Darwin Barney, 2B2120100 .260
Chris Rusin, P3010002 .286
    Jaye Chapman, P0000000 .000
    James Russell, P0000000 .000
    Manny Corpas, P0000000 .000
   a- Bryan LaHair, PH1000000 .256
    Shawn Camp, P0000000 .000
    Carlos Marmol, P0000000 .000
Totals3379754  
a-hit into fielder's choice for Corpas in the 7th
Batting
2B - David DeJesus (26, McDonald), Luis Valbuena (18, McDonald), Anthony Rizzo (10, Wilson), Darwin Barney (26, McPherson)
HR - Starlin Castro (13, Hughes)
SH - Darwin Barney (3)
RBI - Anthony Rizzo 2 (36), Alfonso Soriano (97), Starlin Castro 4 (75)
2-OUT RBI - Anthony Rizzo 2 (10), Alfonso Soriano (36), Starlin Castro 4 (33)
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Marmol-Castro-Rizzo
PB - Steve Clevenger (4)
E - Starlin Castro (25, Misplayed grounder)
Chicago Cubs
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Chris Rusin (W,1-2) 5422060 5.06
Jaye Chapman (H,3) 0.1211100 2.08
James Russell (H,12) 1000110 3.43
Manny Corpas 0.2211001 4.54
Shawn Camp (H,16) 1000010 3.55
Carlos Marmol (S,20) 1000000 3.72
HBP - Barmes (by Chris Rusin), Presley (by Carlos Marmol)
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Rusin 78-56, Jaye Chapman 17-9, James Russell 20-13, Manny Corpas 15-9, Shawn Camp 13-7, Carlos Marmol 11-5
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Rusin 7-2, Jaye Chapman 1-0, James Russell 1-1, Manny Corpas 2-0, Shawn Camp 1-1, Carlos Marmol 1-1
Batters Faced - Chris Rusin 20, Jaye Chapman 4, James Russell 4, Manny Corpas 4, Shawn Camp 3, Carlos Marmol 3
Game Information
Attendance - 26946
Game Time - 3:17
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Mike Muchlinski, First Base - Sam Holbrook, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Joe West