CHICAGO--What began as a storm threat that resulted in the Wrigley Field grounds crew pre-emptively putting the tarp down on the infield turned into a torrential downpour that delayed the start of Saturday night's game between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the end, the Pirates prevailed 5-3 in a see-saw affair.
The game started after a 2-hour, 1 minute delay and the Pirates took a 1-0 lead on a home run by Jordy Mercer to lead off the third inning. The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Anthony Rizzo blasted a 2-run homer into the right field bleachers -- his 15th homer of the season.
The Pirates regained the lead 3-2 in the fifth inning and chased starting pitcher Travis Wood, who threw 99 pitches. RBI singles by Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen put the Pirates in front and brought on Brian Schlitter in relief.
The Pirates padded their lead to 5-2 in the seventh when Harrison blasted a two-run homer to right. Gregory Polanco had hit a two-out grounder to short and initially was called out at first. Following a challenge, Polanco was ruled safe, giving Harrison the opportunity homer.
The Cubs got an RBI double by Eli Whiteside in the bottom of the seventh to score Darwin Barney.
Ascending to the .500 mark at some point this season would seem to be a reasonable goal for the Cubs, who sit at 31-40.
This time last year, the Cubs were 29-42 but wound up losing 96 games.
First-year manager Rick Renteria was reluctant to assign a specific goal for this year's team, but the Cubs have been on a decent stretch with an 18-13 mark since May 17.
"My only concern is that we come out every single day, play good ballgames, and when it is all said and done we will see where it all lies," Renteria said.
The Cubs, who beat the Pirates 6-3 in the first game of the three-game series on Friday, are trying to win three straight series for the first time since June 21-30 of last season when they trumped Houston (2-1), Milwaukee (2-1) and Seattle (2-1).
"I don't know if there is any secret formula for this," Renteria said. "Come out every day and hopefully have the same approach in the way we prepare and the way we get ready for the game. Maybe that's the way to do it, have a consistent routine."
Lefthander Wood (7-5, 4.48) got the starting nod against righthander Vance Worley (0-0, 0.00), who was called up from Triple A Indianapolis last Sunday and tossed seven scoreless innings against the Marlins.
The Cubs entered Saturday with an 11-7 record in June. They had 11 victories in the entire month of May.
"We're swinging the bats better, for sure. I think we're getting some more clutch hitting, some timely hitting," Renteria said. "Our pitching has been there. Our bullpen has been solidified the last four or five weeks."
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