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Cubs unable to sweep in tense finale with Bucs

May 30, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs had hoped to escape Pittsburgh with a sweep of the Pirates and without any more incidents on the basepaths but couldn't do either. Josh Harrison hit a home run to back Joe Musgrove and hand the Cubs a 2-1 defeat on Wednesday night at PNC Park.Tensions

PITTSBURGH -- The Cubs had hoped to escape Pittsburgh with a sweep of the Pirates and without any more incidents on the basepaths but couldn't do either. Josh Harrison hit a home run to back Joe Musgrove and hand the Cubs a 2-1 defeat on Wednesday night at PNC Park.
Tensions were still high following Monday's controversial slide by Anthony Rizzo, and it carried over into the third inning on Wednesday. Musgrove upended Javier Baez with a slide at second in an attempt to break up a potential double play. Both benches and bullpens emptied, but peace was quickly restored.
"He just went hard," Baez said of Musgrove. "I'm not saying it was a bad slide, but he just went hard. I asked him, 'What was that about?' He said, 'Sorry,' and the conversation was over.
"Everybody came out because they had to. Sometimes players are just talking. That was the situation there and it was over. [The players] came out of the dugout. They have to go to second base to see what happened. It was over."

"I loved it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the brief spat. "I thought it was rather humorous. There was nothing going on. It was absolutely a non-descript nothing."
On Monday, Rizzo had clipped Pirates catcher Elias Diaz at home in the eighth inning and was not called for interference. However, MLB reviewed the play, and both teams were informed the next day that Rizzo should've been penalized. Rizzo was booed every at-bat at PNC Park since, and that continued Wednesday. He went 0-for-3, ending his hitting streak at 11 games.
The Cubs struck quickly in the first as Albert Almora Jr. doubled on the first pitch of the game from Musgrove and scored on Baez's single. Making his second start after being slowed by shoulder issues, Musgrove then settled down. The right-hander struck out five over seven innings, scattering seven hits.

Kyle Hendricks, who acted as peacemaker between Musgrove and Baez in the third, exited after a long fifth inning. The Pirates loaded the bases with one out, but Hendricks escaped when Francisco Cervelli popped up to Rizzo and Baez made a sliding stop of Josh Bell's hard-hit ball, throwing to Rizzo in time to end the inning.
"It was a little bit of a battle," Hendricks said of his outing. "I thought I threw pretty good, but it was more a battle mentally for some reason. I made good pitches when I needed to. I would say a bad sequence to Harrison, the first [at-bat] there. The only bad pitch I thought I threw was to [Corey] Dickerson for the [triple in the second]."
Dickerson scored one out later on Gregory Polanco's sacrifice fly, which proved to be the difference in the game.

The Cubs could have made it tough from the start for Musgrove in the first inning. Baez hit his RBI single and one out later, Rizzo was intentionally walked. Musgrove then walked Willson Contreras to load the bases but escaped when he struck out both Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell.
"That's been our mantra," Maddon said of the inability to drive in baserunners. "We had the baserunners. Their guy is really good, by the way. Musgrove is really good."
The Cubs stranded 11 baserunners on Wednesday and went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
"I had good swings," Baez said. "We just left too many runners on base. We just couldn't respond for Hendricks. He was throwing a good game and his stuff was really good. I made good contact, but it didn't go our way."

In the Pirates' fourth, Dickerson tried to score from second on Colin Moran's single but was thrown out at home by right fielder Jason Heyward. According to Statcast™, Heyward's throw to the plate was 96.1 mph and zipped from a distance of 222 feet.

"That's probably the first fight I've been in the middle of. It was a weird situation. Not much was said. There was a little standoff and we went about our way. There wasn't much to it." -- Hendricks, on the Baez/Musgrove dust-up

In the Pirates' third, Musgrove singled to lead off and was forced at second on Harrison's grounder. The Pirates pitcher slid hard into second and upended Baez, who said something to Musgrove. Both benches and bullpens emptied, and Hendricks immediately stepped between Baez and Musgrove. After some time, everyone retreated. The umpires performed a rules check, and then announced that it was not a reviewable play.
"It was a non-review," Maddon said. "It was a review that turned out to be a non-review. Apparently, it's a non-reviewable play based on Javy not attempting the throw."
Maddon said he had no problem with Musgrove's slide and wanted more definition of the rule.
"Throwing the ball, not throwing the ball, slide, good slide, bad slide -- it's really all over the map and it makes it really difficult on the umpire," Maddon said.

Jose Quintana will open the Cubs' four-game series in New York on Thursday. The lefty has been unable to complete five frames in three of his last five starts, including his last outing against the Giants, when he was pulled after 4 1/3 innings and six strikeouts. This will be Quintana's third career start against the Mets, who will counter with Seth Lugo, and second at Citi Field. He's 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA in those two outings. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT from Citi Field.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.