Justin Morneau drove home Andrew McCutchen with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates posted a 3-2 home win against the Chicago Cubs (58-91) on Sunday afternoon, finishing with a 3-games-to-1 edge in the weekend series, and winning for the 6th time in 7 games.
The Pirates (87-52) remain tied with St. Louis for first place in the National League Central Division with 13 regular season games remaining.
Until the seventh inning, the game’s spotlight shone on Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, who pitched a no-hitter through six innings, allowing just three base runners, all on walks. In the seventh, Liriano allowed a leadoff infield single to Junior Lake before Wellington Castillo tied the game at 2-2 with a two-run home run. After Darnell McDonald singled and with Liriano now over the 100-pitch count, the Bucs’ starter left the ballgame and was charged with his first “no-decision” of the season.
Earlier in the game, Jose Tabata tripled for the Pirates and scored on a wild pitch, and Tony Sanchez slugged his second Major League home run.
Kyle Farnsworth (3-0; 4.79 ERA) pitched the eighth inning, and earned the win, while Mark Melancon worked the ninth frame and recorded his 16th save. Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (2-5; 4.85 ERA) took the loss.
The win followed a 2-1 Pirates victory on Saturday night. Tabata and Marlon Byrd homered for the Bucs. Nate Schierholtz doubled home the Cubs’ only run. Both teams managed only five hits.
Pittsburgh rookie starter Gerrit Cole (8-7; 3.33 ERA) earned the win with seven innings of five-hit pitching. Cole allowed one run, struck out seven hitters and walked one.
On Monday night, the Pirates will begin another four-game home series, facing the San Diego Padres (68-80). The Bucs’ A.J. Burnett (8-10; 3.45 ERA) is scheduled to face San Diego’s Andrew Cashner (9-8; 3.40 ERA).