Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cubs 6, Pirates 1 Tough One to Watch Chicago Shapes Up First after Sloppy Start to Halt Winning Streak

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Cubs 6, Pirates 1 Tough One to Watch Chicago Shapes Up First after Sloppy Start to Halt Winning Streak

Article excerpt

CHICAGO - The day was perfect -77 degrees at first pitch, 41,294 fans soaking up the afternoon sun at Wrigley Field. The baseball was not.

"For three innings," manager Clint Hurdle said, "it was mayhem out there."

The play was indicative of two teams struggling to gain traction in a winnable division. Enigmatic as the Chicago Cubs have been, most of the talent from their World Series-winning roster remains, and that talent handed the Pirates a 6-1 loss Friday. Kris Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP, went 4 for 5 with two home runs and an RBI triple, and Anthony Rizzo also homered. Bryant hit one against Jhan Marinez in the sixth and another off Antonio Bastardo in the eighth.

The 2016 season, this is not. Blessed with nothing but traction a year ago, the Cubs, like everyone in the National League Central Division except for the first-place Milwaukee Brewers, cannot find any. They were 12-12 since June 11 entering Friday and have never had a record better than four games over .500 nor worse than two games below it. They won consecutive games just once in that stretch, and the victory Friday evened their record at 43-43. The three games in a row the Pirates (40-47) took against the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this week was their best stretch since June 13.

"In the clubhouse, when we're winning, it's great," said starter Trevor Williams, who allowed three runs and six hits in 3? innings. "When we lose, it's tough. But I think collectively as a team, when we get rolling, we're hard to stop."

The game Friday began at 1:21 p.m. local time, inauspiciously enough, with an Adam Frazier pop-out. Three ridiculous innings later, at 2:48, both teams remained scoreless but had thrown a combined 140 pitches, went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position, stranded 12 runners on base and committed four errors.

Williams threw 80 pitches through the first three innings and recorded only 11 outs on 98 pitches, through no fault of his own.

"We created some chaos for him early," Hurdle said. …

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