Bucs commit seven errors in ugly loss to Cubs

Bucs commit seven errors in ugly loss to Cubs

Bucs commit seven errors in ugly loss to Cubs
PITTSBURGH -- In baseball, nobody is flawless for too long. Everyone is set up for a certain amount of misery. Assuming the Pirates had an X-amount of errors, stumbles, bad pitches, bad throws, bad decisions and feeble swings still to go for the rest of this season, they used them all up Friday night in PNC Park.

The Bucs were defeated, 12-2, by the Cubs, who had left Washington on a six-game losing streak -- the last three of which they were outscored by the Nationals, 29-8.

But that is only a very small part of the story that unfolded in front of 32,699. Manager Clint Hurdle could only bear to watch half of it, managing to get himself thrown out of the game in the top of the sixth.

"Our worst game of the season," Hurdle said. "We stunk. There's always a sense of pride you take out on the field to play your best ... sometimes your best stinks. That's where we were tonight. Nobody woke up thinking, 'Let's go out there tonight and stink up the joint in front of 32,000 fans.'"

The Bucs committed seven errors, resulting in nine of Chicago's runs being unearned. They booted around the horn -- shortstop Josh Harrison, two by second baseman Brock Holt, first baseman Gaby Sanchez, catcher Rod Barajas -- and left fielder Starling Marte had two misplays in the same inning.

The loose play caved in on right-hander A.J. Burnett, who had begun the game with a lifetime record of 6-0 and a scoreless streak of 14 1/3 innings this season against the Cubs.

"It just seemed like things snowballed on us," Burnett said. "Didn't go our way from the get-go. I didn't have swing-and-miss stuff when I was ahead in the count. I had ground-ball stuff."

It definitely was the wrong night to have that.

By contrast, Chicago starter Travis Wood had lost his previous eight decisions, prompting Hurdle to remind how "sport has no memory."

"Look at A.J.'s numbers coming in against these guys," Hurdle went on, "and where Wood's been -- then you gotta go play the game. And they came out and played the game and we didn't play it well at all."

The seven miscues were the club's most since Sept. 16, 1985, against the Cardinals at Three Rivers Stadium. They came within one of a club-record eight, set on Sept. 17, 1939, against the Phillies at Forbes Field.

Consider this PNC Park's initiation.

Every one of Chicago's runs was aided by miscues by a Pittsburgh team that itself could manage only one hit off Wood in six innings.

The Bucs spent most of the night trying to out-hit their error column, and didn't even come close. By the time they got their first hit -- Pedro Alvarez's double with two outs in the fifth -- they already had three errors. They wound up with four, including an RBI double in the eighth by Michael McKenry, who subsequently scored on Marte's sacrifice fly.

Wood is a ranking left-hander -- he was within one out of coming in with three consecutive quality starts prior to this one -- and demonstrated it by blanking the Bucs on the one hit through six, while walking three and striking out five.

"It was nice to come in here against one of the better teams in the National League and put it on them pretty good," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said. "It was good for us after where we were coming from and the mental state, so to speak. It's huge for the guys in the clubhouse to have a game like that."

To complete the night's bizarro aspect, Andrew McCutchen was robbed of extra bases when Alfonso Soriano -- whom Chicago knows as a defensively-challenged outfielder -- sprinted to and soared above the left-center wall to snag McCutchen's fourth-inning drive.

McCutchen was robbed again, more spectacularly, in the sixth when center fielder Brett Jackson ran down his rope an instant before crashing into the left-center bullpen chain-link fence at full speed. After a few minutes of attention by Cubs trainers. Jackson was able to leave the field under his own power, although he immediately gave way with a bruised knee to a pinch-hitter in the top of the next inning.

"That was a terrible game. You aren't going to win many making seven errors," McCutchen said of the team performance, adding about his own 0-for-3, "It stunk. I hate stuff like that. To have a couple guys make good plays and have nothing to show for it. But I'll take my feeling over the results."

A shaky beginning had the Bucs regressing to their habit of allowing first-inning scoring. Luis Valbuena, after walking with one away, moved to second when Holt muffed Anthony Rizzo's grounder for an error, and scored when Soriano's dribbler just made its way under Harrison's glove for a hit.

Compared to Marte's third inning, that first was an artistic masterpiece. The nightmare began after Burnett had retired the first two men. Rizzo and Soriano stroked consecutive singles, and after misplaying the second hit, Marte picked it up and heaved it literally into no-man's-land between third and home. Soriano advanced to second on the costly error. Starlin Castro followed with a single to left that scored both runners and gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

Marte's bobble of Castro's hit for another error allowed him to take second -- from where he was brought home on Steve Clevenger's single for the inning's third run.

That was still merely a prelude to the sixth, in which a Burnett wild pitch, a Rod Barajas throwing error and a Sanchez throwing error scored one run and set up Valbuena's two-run double off left-handed reliever Tony Watson to make it 7-0.

At the outset of that inning, Hurdle, perhaps heeding a premonition, got himself ejected by third-base umpire Gary Darling for arguing a play at third base. As bad as what he had seen, Hurdle missed the worst to come.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.