The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped their second straight game to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night, scoring only one run just one night after getting only one hit off Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija. While the biggest news of the night happened off the field in a trade for Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, the 5-1 loss clinched the series for Chicago and put the Bucs two games back of the Reds, who were struggling against the Astros at the time.
Just like Samardzija on Monday night, Cubs starter Paul Maholm went eight solid innings. Maholm, himself the subject of trade rumors, discussed a possible return to Pittsburgh earlier in the day. He then took the mound and gave up just four hits and one run to his former club. The lefty threw 110 pitches in his eight innings, striking out seven before handing the ball off to Carlos Marmol. The lone blip on the evening for Maholm was a solo shot by Garrett Jones in the bottom of the fourth.
James McDonald, on the other hand, was not nearly as sharp and the Cubs offense took advantage. Starlin Castro, who scored both runs on Monday night in the Cubs narrow win, took McDonald to center for a solo homer in the top of the first. The Bucs' starter then got a little wild in the top of the fifth, issuing a walk to Geovany Soto and then intentionally walking Luis Valbuena to get to the pitcher Maholm. But McDonald also gave a free pass to Maholm, and David DeJesus made him pay with a bases-loaded double that scored two and pushed the lead to 3-1. That's all the Cubs would need, but Alfonso Soriano added a two-run bomb in the sixth in McDonald's final inning on the mound.
Kevin Correia will now take the ball in Wednesday's getaway-day finale, looking to avoid the sweep. He'll be opposed by Ryan Dempster, another pitcher who has been the subject of constant trade rumors.