Overturned call helps Pirates eke out win over Cubs

by - Senior Writer -
An overturned call involving an Addison Russell slide ruined a potential ninth-inning rally for the Cubs. (Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports)
An overturned call involving an Addison Russell slide ruined a potential ninth-inning rally for the Cubs. (Photo Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports)

PITTSBURGH — Aided by instant replay, the Pittsburgh Pirates (56-52), squeaked out a 5-4 win against the Chicago Cubs (61-45) in the first installment of a two-game series at PNC Park. Despite a great 3-4 hitting performance by infielder Javier Baez, the Cubs came up short on the evening after a video review did not go their way in the top of the ninth.

Early on in the game, the Pirates left a few runners stranded in the second inning but were able to get to Cubs left-hander Jon Lester in the next frame. Pirates third baseman David Freese hit a double off the wall in right field that missed being a home run by mere inches. Ironically, in the next at-bat, catcher Francisco Cervelli earned a home run that barely cleared the wall in left-field.

With a sweet swing, Baez evened the score in the top of the fourth. After Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward tallied back-to-back hits to start the inning, Baez lofted a 401-foot three-run bomb to left for his 22nd homer of the season. Baez now leads the National League with 82 RBI on the year. In the fifth inning, Freese put the Bucs back on top with an RBI double to deep right-center.

Cubs left fielder Ian Happ saved a run from scoring with an inning-ending assist on a play at the plate. Gunning a throw from left field on a single by Cervelli, Happ threw Freese out at home to usher in the sixth frame. Chicago failed to take advantage, as it wasted a leadoff ground-rule double from Baez in the top of the sixth and remained down by a run.

Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco provided the Buccos with some breathing room by jacking a solo home run to lead off the bottom half of the eighth. The Pirates accrued eight hits on the night, and six of them came from Cervelli, Freese and Polanco. Lester, who allowed four runs on seven hits, was charged with the loss to drop to 12-4. The Cubs lost on Tuesday for the first time in their last seven road games in which Lester started on the mound. Chicago reliever Justin Wilson gave up the home run to Polanco.

Facing defeat, the Cubs got off to a hot start in the top of the ninth. David Bote started with a base knock to left. Then, Addison Russell tallied what was initially ruled his second triple of the year. Scoring Bote with ease, Russell lined a shot to right-center that was bobbled in the outfield. However, the bobble actually helped Pittsburgh, as Russell attempted to stretch his double into a triple and was ultimately thrown out.

Russell was originally ruled safe, but an umpire-initiated review resulted in him being called out, as he appeared to briefly come off the bag with Freese applying the tag at third base. The Cubs then endured two consecutive outs to end the game in a deflating fashion. Leaving 11 runners stranded, the Cubs missed out on several scoring chances in their 5-4 loss. Chicago is now 4-6 in its last 10 contests.

Pirates starter Jameson Taillon received the win for his 6.2-inning stint. He is now 8-8 overall. Also, Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vasquez, who dodged a bullet when Russell was called out, was credited with his 24th save. Pittsburgh, the hottest team in the National League Central during the month of July, now trails Chicago by six games in the standings.

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