PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Pirates were looking to avoid being swept by the Chicago Cubs Thursday night.
However, the bullpen came up short and surrendered a slim lead in the eighth inning.
A three-run eighth inning put the Cubs ahead for good as they held on for a 7-6 victory.
Home runs by Geovany Soto, Carlos Pena and Blake DeWitt put the Cubs up 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning.
Garrett Jones’ lead-off double started a six-run rally for the Pirates.
Two batters later, Ryan Ludwick singled to center to score Jones from third base. Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Doumit followed with singles of their own to load the bases with one out.
Xaver Paul drove home the Pirates’ second run of the game with a groundout.
Brandon Wood drew a walk to load the bases again and set the stage for McDonald.
McDonald helped his own cause and hammered a fastball to centerfield that cleared the bases and put the Pirates up 5-3.
McCutchen kept the rally going with a double of his own that brought McDonald home to cap the scoring for the Pirates.
On the mound, McDonald allowed four runs on four hits while walking none and striking out three in seven innings of work.
For Chicago, Rodrigo Lopez allowed six runs on seven hits in four innings.
Daniel McCutchen came on for the eighth inning and loaded the bases without recording an out.
Jason Grilli inherited the runners and allowed an RBI single to Aramis Ramirez to cut the lead to 6-5. It would be the only batter he would face in the game.
Joe Beimel came on and walked Carlos Pena to force home the game-tying run.
Marlon Byrd’s sacrifice fly to left field off of Jose Veras put the Cubs back on top 7-6.
Veras retired the next two batters he faced to end the inning, but the damage was already done.
Carlos Marmol pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his 23rd save of the season, which completed the four-game sweep of the Pirates.
Pittsburgh will look to snap the seven-game losing streak Friday night when they host the San Diego Padres at 7:05 p.m.
Aaron Harang (9-3, 3.76 ERA) is scheduled to take on Jeff Karstens (8-5, 2.49 ERA).