Cubs-Bucs tilt gets wild in 8th to force extras

After replay confirms out call at plate, Pirates score tying run on inning-ending double play

Cubs-Bucs tilt gets wild in 8th to force extras

PITTSBURGH -- Facing one of the toughest pitchers in the Majors, the Pirates knew runs would be tough to come by Wednesday night at PNC Park.

But they probably couldn't have predicted what it would take to scratch across the tying run against Jake Arrieta in the eighth inning, forcing extras before falling to the Cubs, 3-2, in the 12th inning.

First, the Pirates had the potential tying run cut down at the plate. Then, they got even by scoring on a wild double play.

Polanco plates Rodriguez in 8th

Trailing by one run in the eighth, the Pirates' first two batters -- Neil Walker and Francisco Cervelli -- reached safely on a pair of infield singles.

Up came pinch-hitter Josh Harrison, who hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop. Pinch-runner Pedro Florimon broke for the plate, shortstop Javier Baez fired home, and catcher Miguel Montero tagged out Florimon.

But Montero was positioned in front of home plate before even catching Baez's throw, seemingly blocking Florimon's path. That led the Pirates to challenge whether he had violated Rule 7.13 -- not allowing the runner a lane.

After a one-minute and 25-second review, the out call was confirmed.

The replay command center in New York City determined that Montero was reacting to the trajectory of Baez's throw, and therefore he was not breaking the home-plate collision rule.

The official rule reads that it isn't a violation of the rule "if the catcher blocks the pathway of the runner in a legitimate attempt to field the throw (e.g., in reaction to the direction, trajectory or the hop of the incoming throw, or in reaction to a throw that originates from a pitcher or drawn-in infielder."

"Doesn't matter what I think. We called in," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We went ahead and asked for the replay, and we were shot down."

After all that, the Pirates wound up with runners on first (Harrison) and second (Sean Rodriguez, pinch-running for Cervelli) as Arrieta's pitch count continued to climb. Pedro Alvarez then worked a full-count walk to load the bases.

Up came Gregory Polanco, who bounced the first pitch he saw toward second base. Starlin Castro fielded the ball and threw out Polanco at first.

Meanwhile, Alvarez stalled between first and second base, avoiding a potential tag -- and double play -- while giving Rodriguez time to break from third and cross the plate to tie the game at 2.

"Just try to prolong the play," Alvarez said.

But the Cubs still ended the inning on the play, limiting the damage as Harrison was eventually caught in a rundown (4-3-4-2-5) between third and home plate.

"I grinded it out and made some pretty big pitches, especially in the eighth," Arrieta said. "[Polanco] hit it to a spot where we weren't able to turn a quick, clean double play."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.