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Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Pirates 4, Cubs 2

By Jesse Rogers

PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday night. Here’s a quick look at the game.

How it happened: The Pirates jumped all over Cubs starter Jason Hammel with four runs in the first three innings, including an Andrew McCutchen two-run homer in the bottom of the first. The Cubs tied the game in the top of the second on an RBI single by John Baker and a groundout by Darwin Barney. But Pittsburgh came right back. Gregory Polanco earned his first career RBI with a groundout, then Starling Marte drove one home with a single in the third. Hammel lasted only five innings, giving up a season-high 11 hits. Luis Valbuena had three hits for the Cubs.

Key play: Considering the score didn’t change after the third inning, McCutchen’s home run in the first inning was a big one. Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan nearly made a spectacular catch going into the left-field bleachers and getting a glove on the ball, but it popped out for McCutchen’s 10th home run of the season.

Rain delay: The start of the game was delayed an hour and 38 minutes due to violent storms in the area.

What it means: It was obvious from the first batter that Hammel was off his game. The 11 hits given up were the most for him since July 2011. Even the outs were hit hard, and he actually benefited from some poor baserunning by the Pirates. Maybe the rain delay had something to do with it, or maybe he was just due for a bad outing. It was so outside the norm for him this season that he’ll probably just throw it away and move on.

Valbuena on fire: He raised his batting average to .287 and on-base percentage to .394. With Mike Olt struggling, Valbuena will see even more time at third base -- and he deserves it.

Double-A affiliation: The Cubs extended their agreement with Double-A Tennessee to continue as their affiliate for four more years.

What’s next: Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 2.54 ERA) faces Edinson Volquez (3-5, 4.27) in the series finale on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. CT.