Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 9/15/12

The Pirates continue to plummet, as they lost their seventh in a row on Friday to fall within one game of .500. I’m honestly at a loss for words besides simply describing the action, so here goes.

James McDonald was disappointing yet again, continuing a personal second half free-fall that won’t seem to end. He was shaky early on, but was able to pitch out of trouble for a few innings. That type of pitching won’t work forever, though, and the Cubs cashed in a baserunner in the third for a 1-0 lead. J-Mac then walked the bases loaded in the fourth, prompting Clint Hurdle to yank him from the game. Just a terrible outing. Three walks in an inning and failing to get through four…yikes.

Justin Wilson yielded a single for two runs, and Chris Leroux allowed another. It was 4-0 Cubs and looking bleak, as rookie Chris Rusin was cruising against the Pirates the first time through the lineup. But, the Bucs showed some life in the middle innings. Gaby Sanchez doubled and scored on a Pedro Alvarez line single in the fifth, and the Bucs set up shop in the sixth when Starling Marte and Garrett Jones singled in front of Sanchez. Gaby delivered again, bringing the Bucs within two. After a Michael McKenry walk, Pedro bounced out with the bases loaded to bring in one run. Clint Barmes walked to load the bases again, and Hurdle sent up Neil Walker.

This is where the game turned. It’s not as if Hurdle didn’t have any better options, but Walker still wasn’t a good one (he hadn’t faced real pitching in weeks, and was batting righty vs a lefty). Neil took some normal-looking cuts but struck out, leaving the Pirates behind 4-3.

Tony Watson got two outs in the sixth, but with a man on first Hurdle turned to Jared Hughes to finish the inning. Instead, Hughes finished the game by plunking the batter on the first pitch he threw and yielding a giant bomb to Starlin Castro on his second. 7-3 Cubs, and basically a ballgame.

Andrew McCutchen hit an opposite field homer for the only other Pirate run. That was great to see (I don’t think he’s hit one of those in a long time, and it’s a sign that his approach is in the right place) but Cutch had a horrible game before that – striking out twice against the soft tossing lefty Rusin, and weakly bouncing out with a man on 2nd and no outs on a 3-1 pitch.

Bryan Morris made his MLB debut in the 8th (FINALLY!!) and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. The Cubs’ bullpen shut it down as well (after the McCutchen bomb), making it a 7-4 final.

Cubs 7, Pirates 4 / Box / 2012 Record: 72-71 / Next: Saturday, vs. Cubs, 1:05

MVP: Sanchez (+.081) / LVP: Hughes (-.223) / Key play: Castro’s HR

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