CHICAGO -- It's one thing to get beat, but it's another to make mistakes and beat yourself, which is what happened to the Cubs on Friday.
Kevin Correia threw 7 1/3 scoreless innings, and the Pirates took advantage of two Cubs errors to post a 4-2 victory.
"We didn't get much done offensively," Cubs manager Mike Quade said, "but a clean game defensively puts us in the thing."
The Pirates had two on in the second when Ronny Cedeno bunted toward starter Doug Davis, who muffed the play for an error. With the bases loaded, Correia then hit a grounder toward third baseman Aramis Ramirez, and the ball took a hop and deflected off his glove toward short. A run scored on the error. One out later, Steve Pearce hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
"You get into some kind of rhythm, and the errors are going to happen, I understand that," Davis said. "But I have to pick up not only Aramis but myself. I made an error that inning as well. It comes down to executing pitches and minimizing the damage that inning."
The Pirates loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth when Davis walked two and hit another batter. The lefty, making his third start for the Cubs, then walked Andrew McCutchen to force in a run, and another tallied on Neil Walker's infield hit that Ramirez knocked down.
Davis (0-3), appearing in his 300th career game and third start with Chicago, walked six and gave up four hits over 4 2/3 innings to take the loss.
"I'm not going to make an excuses for walking six people, that's for sure," Davis said. "I've been around long enough to know walking that many guys against any team is going to come back to haunt you.
"I felt like my mechanics were there, and I made a lot of pitches as well," he said. "It's something I have to work on."
The Pirates decided to be patient.
"When a guy puts himself in that situation, the best thing you can do is just wait him out and wait for the pitch," Chris Snyder said. "That's what we did. I'm not sure how many walks we had, but I know we had quite a few."
"Having a year off, I didn't expect he was going to be a guy who comes in here ultra-sharp, giving us seven to eight innings," Quade said of Davis, who started eight games last season for the Brewers before he was shutdown with elbow problems. "It's a whole different outing, to me, if we make a couple plays, and he was in the middle of that himself in that second inning."
Correia (7-4), who beat the Cubs on April 1 in the season opener, served up four hits, walked one and struck out two. Two of Chicago's hits came in the fourth, when Starlin Castro led off with an infield single and, one out later, moved up on Carlos Pena's single. But Correia got Alfonso Soriano to fly out and rookie Tony Campana to ground out to end the inning.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the eighth, but Jose Veras got Ramirez to pop up to end the inning. Ramirez, who has batted fourth all season, is 1-for-22 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"I've got nothing today," Ramirez, who has one homer this season, hit back on April 6, said after the game.
"I can't figure it out," Quade said of the lack of clutch hits by the third baseman. "We've had a lot of our big bats who have struggled in those situations.
"I don't know -- when a veteran guy has got that going, he's got to figure it out. His approach seems good to me. We've talked about the one-home-run thing, and I don't think he's swinging for the fences and having bad at-bats because he's trying to go deep. He's just not able to put the ball in play on a regular basis with authority right now."
Ramirez isn't alone. Pena is batting .125 with runners in scoring position; Soriano is hitting .213.
"There have been a few guys in the middle of the lineup who have struggled with that," Quade said. "We need to find a way, like we did on Thursday [against the Mets], to put runs on the board."
Chicago beat the Mets, 9-3, on Thursday and entered the game ranked second in the National League with a team batting average of .280. The Pirates have had the edge in this series, though, in recent years. With the win, Pittsburgh improved to 15-6 against Chicago, dating back to Sept. 30, 2009.
Soriano did connect with one out and one on in the ninth, hitting his 12th homer of the season and first since May 2 off Joe Beimel, but that was all the Cubs could manage in the final frame, as Joel Hanrahan came in and struck out the side to end the game.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.