PITTSBURGH -- Scott Baker took another big step Saturday night in his second start since returning from reconstructive right elbow surgery.
Baker extended his scoreless streak to 10 1/3 innings before Jose Tabata hit a game-tying home run as the Pirates rallied for a 2-1 victory.
Former Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd hit a tiebreaking home run with one out in the seventh off James Russell.
Baker left with no decision but plenty to be satisfied about. He limited the Pirates to three hits as he showed a slight increase in velocity. Baker allowed no walks and struck out four.
Two of those strikeouts came against All-Star Andrew McCutchen, who took a called third strike on an inside breaking pitch to open the fourth.
In his two starts, Baker has allowed one run on five hits while walking one and has pitched with the efficiency manager Dale Sveum seeks.
The Cubs staked Baker to a 1-0 lead in the first on a Nate Schierholtz double but stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and seventh. Anthony Rizzo doubled to start the fourth but was left stranded.
Baker will make his final start on Friday against the National League East-leading Braves at Wrigley Field.
Starter's mentality: Carlos Villanueva is 5-1 with a 3.40 ERA in 29 relief appearances but believes he can contribute in the rotation.
"I still think I'm a starter in this league," said Villanueva, who was 1-7 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 starts before he was moved to the bullpen to make room for Jake Arrieta. "I'd still love to start a full year. But I can't really force myself into that role. I thought I did a good job when I was in there. Maybe under different circumstances, I would have been there all year, but they want to see the future.
"I have to understand their thinking, and I will pitch wherever they want me."
Villanueva, who is completing the first year of a two-year, $10 million contract, realizes there's no benefit to griping about his role -- especially with at least one spot open in the rotation for next season.
"A frustrated pitcher is not going to do well," Villanueva said. "You can't be thinking about something else when you're facing big league hitters. So for me, this offseason, I'll prepare to start. Hopefully I'll get a chance and it can be two things.
"Either we're good, and I can start all year and guide us through the playoffs. Or I'll be good, and they can get something for me at the All-Star break. It's the business side of it, and I understand it. I've thrown some key innings this year, a lot of innings and I'm closing in on my career high (125 with the Blue Jays in 2012)."
Dazzling defense: Manager Dale Sveum has been extremely pleased with the defense of second baseman Darwin Barney, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Welington Castillo.
"And if you put all our third basemen together, they've done a good job, too," Sveum said.
The outfield defense has been a work in progress, especially since Junior Lake is playing the outfield for the first time and Brian Bogusevic converted from a pitcher on a full-time basis in 2009.
"There are lot of things that go into outfield play that people take for granted," Sveum said.
Bard plan: The Cubs are sticking to their plan of working newly acquired Daniel Bard in bullpen sessions and not rushing to use him in a game.
"We're OK with that," Sveum said.
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