When they play the Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates hardly resemble a last-place team.The numbers are almost staggering. When Brad Lincoln pitched seven strong innings Wednesday for his first major league win, lifting the Pirates over the Cubs 2-0 it was Pittsburgh’s ninth win in 12 tries against the free falling Northsiders. Those nine wins represent one-third of the Pirates’ victory total (27) this season. And closer Octavio Dotel, who pitched a scoreless ninth, has seven of his 16 saves against the Cubs.Unfortunately for the Pirates — and maybe fortunately for the Cubs — the teams meet only three more times this season.Pittsburgh broke a scoreless tie in the eighth with two unearned runs when Andy LaRoche reached on Aramis Ramirez’s error with one out, Andrew McCutchen singled and Garrett Jones drove a ball off the ivy in left-center for a run-scoring double against reliever Andrew Cashner (0-3).After an intentional walk to Ryan Doumit loaded the bases, reliever Sean Marshall struck out Pedro Alvarez, but walked Lastings Milledge to make it 2-0.Lincoln (1-2) allowed just four hits in seven innings, the longest outing of his career in just his fifth major league start. He walked one and struck out six. Joel Hanrahan pitched the eighth before Dotel finished up the five-hit shutout.It marked the sixth time in the past 11 games the punchless Cubs have scored one run or fewer. They had a leadoff man on base five times Wednesday, but couldn’t come through with a clutch hit. And in the three-game series against the Pirates, they managed just four runs.
“This game here was a nice little synopsis of what our season has been like,” Piniella added. No kidding! With the wind blowing in at 16 mph, Alfonso Soriano’s long drive to left stayed in and was caught by Jose Tabata in the fifth. Soriano had homered twice Tuesday night.One out later, Starlin Castro lined a double over first base to put runners at second and third before Lincoln struck out pinch-hitter Tyler Colvin.Former Pirate Tom Gorzelanny, making his first start since May 26 and back in the rotation with Carlos Zambrano on the restricted list following his outburst at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday, pitched five shutout innings for the Cubs, allowing four hits before being lifted for Colvin.
NOTES—LaRoche made his fourth career start at second base. Infielders Neil Walker (concussion) and Bobby Crosby (concussion-like symptoms) are both out….The Pirates finished their nine-game road trip to Texas, Oakland and Chicago at 2-7 — both wins at Wrigley Field.