Pirates-Cubs game suspended by rain in 7th inning
CHICAGO (AP) — The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the thick of the playoff race in the National League, so Saturday is another big day for manager Clint Hurdle’s club.
Friday’s series opener against the Chicago Cubs was suspended by rain with the game tied at 3 in the seventh inning. The teams will pick up right where they left off before their regularly scheduled matchup Saturday afternoon.
The Pirates brought a four-game losing streak to Wrigley Field and began the day third in the NL Central, 5 1/2 back of the streaking Cardinals and 1 1/2 games out in the wild-card race. Completing two games in one day provides a chance for Pittsburgh to make up ground no matter what the other NL contenders do.
The Pirates and Cubs waited through a 37-minute rain delay in the fifth, but more storms rolled through the area with Jordy Mercer at the plate in the top of the seventh. With more rain in the forecast, the game was called after a delay of 1 hour, 52 minutes.
“The field took a lot of water. It would take quite a bit of time to prep the field (and) there would be a very small window of clear weather to play,” Hurdle said. “We might not even have the potential of playing multiple innings, and there’s another larger storm that’s supposed to come and last longer.”
Josh Harrison had three hits for Pittsburgh, including two doubles, at the time of the suspension. Jose Tabata had two hits and drove in a run.
Cubs left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada left with one out in the fourth due to mild cramping in his left calf. He hit consecutive batters with pitches in the third and was charged with three runs, two earned, on three hits and one walk.
The gametime temperature was 88 degrees on a muggy afternoon, and Wada said he thought the heat bothered him.
“This was something that I experienced in Japan in the past as well, so I just felt like it just kind of came up again,” he said through a translator.
Pittsburgh right-hander Vance Worley returned after the first delay, but departed with two outs in the fifth. He allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits.
“You can’t control the weather,” Worley said. “I went back out there and the ball was coming out better than the rest of the game. I got a little erratic at times, but I kept the ball in the park and they put a couple of balls in play.”
Wada was in line for the loss before Chris Valaika’s two-out RBI single in the fifth. The Cubs then had runners on second and third, but Justin Wilson retired pinch-hitter Mike Olt on a bouncer to second for the final out of the inning.
“I thought Justin did a great job leaving the two runners out there,” Hurdle said.
Harrison doubled and scored on a two-out throwing error by third baseman Luis Valbuena in the first. But Harrison returned the favor in the third, throwing Valaika’s two-out grounder over the head of first baseman Gaby Sanchez for an error that allowed Valbuena to come home.
The Cubs made another costly defensive mistake in the fourth when Arismendy Alcantara broke in on Tabata’s drive to center and it sailed over his head for an RBI double. Harrison added another run-scoring double with two outs, giving Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead.
Pirates: OF Travis Snider (left hamstring) and INF Pedro Alvarez (left foot) aren’t ready to play just yet, Hurdle said. ... RHP Charlie Morton, placed on the disabled list last month with a sports hernia in his right hip, was scheduled to throw a bullpen Friday and then a simulated game Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Two left-handers take the mound when Pittsburgh’s Francisco Liriano (3-10, 3.91 ERA) faces Felix Doubront (1-0, 1.29) on Saturday afternoon. Liriano is looking for his first win since July 29 at San Francisco, while Doubront is seeking his second straight victory after he pitched seven solid innings in his first appearance with the Cubs at St. Louis last Saturday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap