Chicago 1 – Pittsburgh 0

W: Matt Garza (5-8)
L: Chris Resop (3-3)
S: Carlos Marmol (22)
Losing streak reaches six
The Pirates (54-55) losing streak has now reached six games, falling to the Chicago Cubs, 1-0, on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
The Pirates who were in desperate need of a win tonight, have now fallen 6.5 games behind NL Central leading Milwaukee (62-50) and are below .500 for the first time since June 21.
The Brewers are 12 games above .500 and are starting to hit their stride and emerging as the team to beat in the Central.
With the losing streak now at six, the Pirates are starting to lose games they were winning before, and tonight was a prime example tonight.
They got an excellent effort from Charlie Morton who went seven strong innings, allowing 5 hits, 0 runs and striking out 7. It was the first time in nine games that Morton pitched through the sixth inning.
He was a stopper when the Pirates needed him to be but the offense was punchless, limited to just 4 hits, no extra base hits and were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The Pirates offensive situation is so bad right now that they had their No. 5 hitter Ryan Ludwick drop down a sacrifice bunt with Derrek Lee at first base and no outs.
Ludwick was 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the game and has been a dud thus far, hitless in the series, but you don’t see many teams having their No. 5 hitter and arguably one of their best pure power guys bunt in that type of situation.
With one out in the ninth, Pedro Alvarez got ahead 3-0 but struck out on a full count and Clint Hurdle put Ryan Doumit in a tough spot, by having him hit for Ronny Cedeno and after getting ahead 2-0, Doumit struck out to end the game.
It was Doumit’s first at-bat against Major League pitching since May 29th.
Alvarez had two of the Pirates four hits but was unable to come up with a clutch hit in the ninth.
Tonight was a typical Garrett Jones performance, coming up with a three strikeout performance, going 0-for-3 on the night, after a two home run game last night.
Steve Pearce continues to show that everyone should give up on the hope that he can be a contributor at the Major League Level. He is now 2-for-23 since coming off the DL and remains overmatched at the plate.
The Pirates and Cubs close out the series tomorrow night. James McDonald (7-5, 4.17) who is pitching very well of late, faces Cubs right hander Rodrigo Lopez (2-3, 440). McDonald is 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 10 home starts.
Speed Factor Gone
What caught the eye of scouts during the Pirates success in early to mid July, was the speed factor and athleticism they had in their lineup. That is gone with Alex Presley, Chase d’Arnaud injured, and Pedro Alvarez, Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick now in the lineup.
The Pirates are 3-9 since Alex Presley has been sidelined.
Doumit will have to earn playing time away from McKenry
Ryan Doumit will make his first start since late May, Thursday night against the Cubs. While the Pirates are hoping for Doumit to add some pop to the lineup, he’s going to have to win playing time away from Michael McKenry.
“We’re not going to unplug McKenry and I don’t have an A and B. I’ll have them match up with our pitchers, Hurdle said during today’s pre-game media session.
McKenry’s ability defensively will keep him in the mix at the catcher position.
Doumit allowed 11 stolen bases on 11 attempts in his first four Triple-A rehab games, before throwing two runners out last night.
Tabata to run the bases on Thursday
Left fielder Jose Tabata has been shutdown in recent weeks due to a strained quad and is scheduled to run the bases on Thursday. It is the first step for Tabata to hopefully begin a rehab assignment this weekend.
Tabata has been sidelined since June 26 and the Pirates will be lucky to have him back in two weeks or so.
Overslot signing bonuses to 5th, 7th rounder.
5th round pick Tyler Glasnow has reportedly received a $600,000 bonus. Glasnow went 8-2 with a 1.25 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 67 innings. The 6-foot-7 pitcher isn’t the only pitcher the Pirates went well above slot. 7th round pick Jake Burnette has received a $550,000 signing bonus.