PITTSBURGH (AP)—Their bench was thin, their minds admittedly jumbled a few hours after watching three more teammates leave. The Pirates had every reason to expect to lose to the Cubs after management effectively told them they’re not ready yet to win.
Ohlendorf pitched seven innings and Sanchez got the depleted Pirates going by scoring from second on a ball that bounded only a few feet from home plate during the fourth inning, helping Pittsburgh beat the Cubs 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Sanchez, coming off probably his worst game of the season, went 3 for 3, reached base four times, and drove in two runs as the Cubs lost for only the sixth time in 26 games in Pittsburgh.
The victory came a few hours after the Pirates dealt outfielders Nyjer Morgan(notes), Eric Hinske(notes) and reliever Sean Burnett(notes), leaving them with only 23 players in uniform. The deals weren’t popular in a clubhouse in which several players, still unhappy with the earlier trade of Nate McLouth(notes), prominently displayed pictures of Morgan in their lockers.
“We lost (some) great guys on the field and in the clubhouse. That’s the business of baseball,” Sanchez said after the last-place Pirates pulled within 1 1/2 games of the fourth-place Cubs in the jumbled NL Central. “We’ve got to keep playing no matter what happens.”
Sanchez played as if he wanted to make up for going 0 for 4, grounding into a double play and stranding six runners during a 3-1 loss to Chicago on Monday.
Sanchez singled to start the fourth against Ted Lilly(notes) (7-6) and moved up on Andy LaRoche’s(notes) two-out single. Brandon Moss(notes) struck out swinging, but the ball bounced into the dirt and away from catcher Geovany Soto(notes). Sanchez never stopped running from second and scored when Lilly was late covering the plate. Lilly drew an error for mishandling Soto’s throw.
“I came up in some big situations (Monday) and didn’t get the job done, so it felt kind of good to go out and get the job done,” Sanchez said.
The Cubs were shut out for the second time in three days and eighth time this season.
“I think we’ve forgotten how to hit, especially with men on base,” said manager Lou Piniella, whose team was 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. “The problem is basically what it’s been all year, putting runs on the board. Until that gets solved, it’s a huge struggle.”
The Cubs finished 11-14 during a forgettable June, their first losing month since August 2007. Their June swoon included Piniella’s blowup with Milton Bradley(notes), seven extra-inning games, Bradley forgetting how many outs there were and throwing the ball into the stands and Soto’s apology for failing a drug test.
With the Pirates leading 2-0, Soto and Mike Fontenot(notes) singled against Ohlendorf (7-6) with two out in the seventh. Soto briefly held up at second on Fontenot’s single to left, changed his mind and tried to advance but was easily thrown out by left fielder Moss.
“That’s a really bad play,” Soto said. “It’s a bad play, that’s all I’ve got to say about it.”
Before that, Ohlendorf made his best start since holding Florida to two hits over seven shutout innings on April 20. He gave up four hits, struck out eight and walked none while limiting the Cubs’ middle three hitters—Lee, Jake Fox(notes) and Micah Hoffpauir(notes)—to one single in nine at-bats.
NOTES: The Pirates went 14-13 during their first winning record in June since 1996 (15-12). … OF Jeff Salazar(notes) will join the Pirates from Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday. … The Cubs are 2-7 on a 10-game trip that ends Wednesday. … Tuesday was the 100th anniversary of the opening of Forbes Field.