How it happened: The Pirates scored their lone run in the first on back-to-back hits with two outs by Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. But Jeff Samardzija shut down the Bucs down for the next six innings. Francisco Liriano did one better, going seven without giving up a run for Pittsburgh. The Cubs really threatened just once after an error in the third inning loaded the bases with none out. Julio Borbon hit into a fielder’s choice, Starlin Castro struck out and Anthony Rizzo flew out. Rizzo struck out with the tying run on third in the eighth. Then Darwin Barney popped up with the tying and lead runs on base in the ninth inning. Liriano retired nine in a row in the middle innings and gave up just two hits while striking out nine.
What it means: It’s another tough-luck loss for a Cubs starter. Unlike Tuesday, the bullpen didn’t blow this game; the offense did. The missed chances in the third inning are a microcosm of Chicago’s season on offense: no clutch hitting. Even a fly ball would have sufficed, but seeing Castro strike out in that situation is all too familiar.
Outside the box: The Cubs dropped to 6-12 in one-run games this year, after playing their 39th of 45 games decided by four runs or fewer. ... Castro’s average with the bases loaded in his career dropped to .225.