Chicago Cubs

Cubs blow another 9th-inning lead, lose to Pirates

The Cubs' Tony Kemp hits a triple to drive in two runs off Pirates relief pitcher Felipe Vazquez in the eighth inning Friday in Pittsburgh.
The Cubs' Tony Kemp hits a triple to drive in two runs off Pirates relief pitcher Felipe Vazquez in the eighth inning Friday in Pittsburgh.

PITTSBURGH – Kevin Newman felt the entire crowd on his side when he stepped to the plate in the ninth inning of a tie game.

Pinch-hitter Cole Tucker drew a bases-loaded walk, and Newman hit an RBI single, all with two outs, as the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to beat the Cubs, 3-2, on Friday night.

Tucker worked a walk against Brandon Kintzler (2-2), and Newman followed with a single to center field on a full count for his third game-ending hit of the season.

“It’s funny, but I was up there as the crowd was getting really wild, and I felt kind of like everybody was on my side in the crowd,” Newman said. “I know there were a good amount of Cubs fans there, but it was kind of like it was everybody and me against the Cubs.”

Kintzler walked three batters in one-third of an inning, including an intentional walk to Josh Bell with two outs and the Cubs leading, 2-1. Erik Gonzalez entered as a pinch runner for Bell and scored on Newman’s single.

It was the second night in a row of late bullpen blowups for the Cubs. The Phillies beat the Cubs on Thursday night on Bryce Harper’s walk-off grand slam off relief pitcher Derek Holland.

Kintzler was activated from the injured list before the game after missing 10 days with right pectoral inflammation. The Cubs are without closer Craig Kimbrel, who is on the injured list with right knee inflammation.

“I didn’t anticipate that part. None of us did,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the walks. “He’s been so good for all year. It’s unfortunate. Kintzler’s the right guy right there. It didn’t play out.”

“They put up some good at-bats,” Kintzler said. “I just got tired, I think, and the legs got a little wobbly.”

Tucker’s walk on a seven-pitch plate appearance kept the Pirates’ rally alive. A rookie shortstop like Newman, Tucker was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game.

“I calmed down and felt really good up there,” Tucker said. “I felt like I had done it before, even though I hadn’t. That’ll probably be the coolest walk I’ll ever have in my career.”

The Cubs fell to 23-39 on the road. They also have lost 17 of their past 25 games away from Wrigley Field. The loss left them a game behind the National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals.

The Pirates won for the third time in four games after losing 24 of their previous 28.

Tony Kemp’s two-run triple in the eighth inning off closer Felipe Vazquez gave the Cubs a 2-1 lead.

Joe Musgrove carried a shutout into the eighth before giving up consecutive singles to Jonathan Lucroy and pinch-hitter Ian Happ with one out. Musgrove was charged with two runs in 71/3 innings, giving up four hits and no walks. He matched his career high with nine strikeouts.

Musgrove retired his first 11 batters before Kris Bryant singled with two outs in the fourth inning. He also set down 10 straight hitters before the hits in the eighth inning.

“It was probably the best I felt all year,” Musgrove said.

Keone Kela (2-0) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks allowed only one run and three hits in seven innings with one strikeout and one walk.

The Pirates’ Colin Moran had an RBI single in the fourth.

R0STER MOVES

Cubs: In addition to Kintzler being activated, infielder Addison Russell was recalled from Triple-A Iowa, and center fielder Albert Almora Jr. and right-handed pitcher James Norwood were optioned there.

General manager Jed Hoyer said Almora is expected to be recalled Sept. 1, when the roster limit expands from 25 to 40. Almora made 75 starts in center field and hit .232 with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs in 114 games.

Pirates: Right-handed pitcher Geoff Hartlieb was optioned to Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Tucker. The Pirates wanted an extra position player because utilityman Jose Osuna is two games into the five-game suspension he received from Major League Baseball for his part in a fight July 30 at Cincinnati.

Tucker made his major league debut April 20.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: Shortstop Javy Báez (illness) and outfielder Jason Heyward (left knee inflammation) returned after being held out of the lineup in Thursday night’s loss at Philadelphia. Second baseman Daniel Descalso (sprained left ankle) will begin a rehab assignment with Iowa on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Cubs lefty Jon Lester (9-8, 4.48 ERA) faces left-hander Steven Brault (3-1, 4.33) on Saturday. Lester is winless in his past five starts, going 0-2 with a 7.00. Brault has had two no-decisions, allowing six runs in 10 innings, since missing a month with a strained shoulder.

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