Bullpen, bats baffled by Bucs
Wells tosses five shutout frames; offense has four hits
PITTSBURGH -- Pinch-hitter Bobby Crosby lashed an eighth-inning RBI single off Chicago relief pitcher Sean Marshall to plate Garrett Jones, who had doubled with one out, lifting the Pirates to a 2-1 victory Monday at PNC Park.
Pirates manager John Russell, who initially sent Jeff Clement out to the on-deck circle, struck gold with Crosby.
"Jeff's been swinging the bat better," Russell offered. "But with the matchup, we thought Bobby would be a little better suited. It makes us look pretty good because it worked out."
Marshall was tagged with the loss, falling to 5-2 on the season. The loss was the Cubs' second straight and ended the Pirates' losing skid at five games. Pittsburgh is now 6-1 against the Cubs this season.
"One run again," Cubs manager Lou Piniella lamented. "I think that's three out of four games that we had one run. What are you going to do?
Cubs right-hander Randy Wells and Pirates righty Ross Ohlendorf staged an old fashioned pitchers' duel on Memorial Day in front of 20,235 at PNC Park.
Wells, who was roughed up for six runs in two innings in his last start at PNC Park on May 6, posted a solid outing against the Pirates. He pitched five scoreless innings and allowed three hits for a no-decision. He tossed 90 pitches, and on a hot humid day, turned things over to the bullpen in the sixth inning.
"Wells did five good innings for us," Piniella said. "He threw 90 pitches and did what we wanted. The bullpen gave up a couple runs, that's acceptable. We had numerous chances with the middle part of our lineup and didn't get it done."
Wells was pleased with his effort, despite the less than perfect conditions.
"To be honest with you, I didn't even think about the weather," Wells stated. "I was thinking about trying to bounce back from my last start, it was pretty embarrassing. I wasn't really sharp today, but I was able to battle through. I didn't think they were going to let me go very long, but, if I had kept my pitch count down and stayed out of some 3-2 counts, I could maybe gone a little deeper into the game. All in all, to bounce back from that horrible start, to get back in the respectable range is pretty satisfying."
Jones greeted Cubs reliever James Russell in the sixth with a blast into the right-field bleachers, tying the game at 1. It was the sixth home run for Jones.
The Pirates' Ohlendorf surrendered one run on three hits in seven innings of work, his longest outing of the year. He recorded six strikeouts and received a no-decision. Right-hander Evan Meek picked up the win in relief, raising his record to 3-1. Octavio Dotel notched his 11th save for the Pirates.
Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee went 0-for-3 on the day and cleanup hitter Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-4. The Cubs were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Lee gave a tip of the cap to Ohlendorf.
"He pitched a little different," Lee opined. "He threw a little harder slider and he mixed in some changeups. He kind of went away from his sinker and pitched a little different today."
The Cubs jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Alfonso Soriano's long fly ball to left-center dropped between Pirates outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Church, and was ruled a triple. Soriano scored on a groundout to third base by Geovany Soto.
The Cubs had an opportunity to take the lead in the eight inning wiped out by a fine defensive play by Pittsburgh third baseman Andy LaRoche, who threw out Mike Fontenot to end the threat.
"You see it stay straight and you have to try to catch it and throw it and hope the throw beats him there," LaRoche said.
A bright spot for the Cubs was the Major League debut of right-hander Andrew Cashner, who got Pirates shortstop Ronny Cedeno to pop out to end the eighth inning.
"We got him in there and he threw the ball well," Piniella explained. "He got Cedeno out with a good fastball. He got his feet wet, he'll help us. He's got a nice arm.
Cashner fought through some jitters in his first big league outing.
"I was a little nervous out there today," Cashner admitted. "I was able to control things and make a pitch."
Meanwhile the Cubs ponder lineup changes as they seek answers to their anemic offense.
"You would think that sooner or later this offense would pick up," Piniella stated. "And start scoring a sufficient number of runs to win baseball games. I mean the last three games we've won, we've shut out the opposition. I don't know, I wish I knew, I wish I knew."
George Von Benko is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.