Rapid Reaction: Pirates 3, Cubs 0

PITTSBURGH -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night:

How it happened: Edwin Jackson tossed one bad inning for the Cubs. But that’s all the Pirates needed, because their pitcher, Wandy Rodriguez, had none. The Cubs managed two hits, a walk and a couple of hit batters off of Rodriguez, but they drove in no runs on a 35 degree night. Jackson was sailing along until he gave up two runs in the fourth inning on back-to-back hits and an error by Starlin Castro. Jackson lasted just five innings, striking out five but giving up three hits and a walk to go along with the two scores.

The key moment: It came in the seventh -- the only inning where the Cubs threatened -- when Scott Hairston and Brent Lillibridge took called third strikes with men on base. Lillibridge battled the count to 3-2 and on the tenth pitch, with the bases loaded, couldn’t pull the trigger. Then with lefty pinch-hit specialist Steve Clevenger on the bench, Dale Sveum elected to let the righty Alberto Gonzalez hit for himself against lefty Tony Watson, and he flied out.

What it means: Cubs injuries might be catching up to them as key role players couldn’t come through when needed. And with Castro and Anthony Rizzo having quiet games after strong ones on Monday, they needed a boost somewhere else. Gonzalez did have a hit, but Lillibridge has looked awful at the plate (0-6) in the early going. His 10-pitch battle with Rodriguez is quickly forgotten when he looks at strike three. The Cubs had a weak night at the plate.

What’s next: The 1-1 Cubs play the rubber game of the series at 11:35 a.m. CT on Thursday before taking off for a three-game set in Atlanta. Travis Wood starts for the Cubs against James McDonald of the Pirates.