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Monday, September 23, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Pirates 2, Cubs 1

By Jesse Rogers


CHICAGO – Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Cubs' 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday:

How it happened: Starling Marte hit a two-out home run off of Kevin Gregg in the ninth inning after the Cubs tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the eighth. The Cubs trailed 1-0 until the eighth inning, when pinch hitter Donnie Murphy drove in Brian Bogusevic with a base hit to left. A Neil Walker home run in the first inning nearly held up as the Cubs' offense couldn’t help starter Jeff Samardzija, who went six innings. Charlie Morton was on his game as he gave up only three hits and one walk over seven innings while striking out five. He struck out the side in the fifth and had to work out of only one jam over the course of the night. The Cubs had the leadoff man on in innings 6-8 before finally pushing across their lone run in the eighth.

What it means: Samardzija had a rough start, with the second batter of the game going deep, and though he gave up five hits and four walks, he battled through six innings. That’s significant because many times this year he hasn’t kept his team within striking distance. In his second-to-last start of the year, that’s exactly what he did, and now Samardzija has a chance to finish his year strong on Sunday in the season finale. The Pirates clinched at least a tie for a wild-card berth pending the outcome of the St. Louis Cardinals/Washington Nationals game.

Outside the box: Cubs catcher Welington Castillo had arthroscopic right knee surgery on Monday and is expected to be fully healed for next season. Before the game, manager Dale Sveum expressed interest in seeing reliever Hector Rondon pitch in back-to-back games. He had a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which featured a fastball that reach 98 mph. The speed of his fastball was something Sveum was interested in seeing on his second straight day on the mound.

What’s next: Game 2 of the series takes place on Tuesday night when Chris Rusin opposes Gerrit Cole.