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Reliable Hammel labors in Cubs’ 4-2 loss to Pirates

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Updated: June 12, 2014 12:22AM



PITTSBURGH — Usually it costs more than 20 bucks to hang out during a game where Chris Coghlan spent part of the first inning Wednesday at PNC Park.

This time it cost a bruise, some frustration and – to hear Coghlan talk – maybe was even the difference in the Cubs’ 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“I had the ball. I could have caught it,” the Cubs’ left fielder said of the play where he leapt into the bleachers attempting to rob Andrew McCutchen of a two-run homer.

“The best non-catch I’ve ever seen,” manager Rick Renteria said of the play that might have best summed up the kind of night it was in soggy Pittsburgh for the Cubs.

Coghlan wound up in the first row with the fans after McCutchen’s drive went off his glove near the pocket as a fan disrupted his path to the ball.

If Coghlan was in the field of play instead of in hailing distance of the hot dog vendor, he might have had a case.

“In this instance, he was trying to take a souvenir away from a fan,” Renteria said. “I think he was two or three rows deep on that one.”

“I’m not on the [fan] at all,” Coghlan said. “I just know that where I was and where the glove and ball were going to go, I would have caught it.”

As it was, the play of the game – just eight pitches into the bottom of the first – was a foiled robbery that left McCutchen smiling as he rounded the bases at the scene of Coghlan hanging out of the bleachers.

And left the Cubs trailing quickly on a rainy night that turned into a damp loss for a Cubs team that waited out a 98-minute rain delay only to watch Jason Hammel – one of the most consistent pitchers on the staff – labor through five innings. And see the lineup get held hitless over the final 4 1/3 innings.

“It wasn’t one of Hammy’s best days, but he sure did grind out five innings,” Renteria said of his starter, who gave up at least two hits in each inning and needed 93 pitches to get through five.

“Fortunately, it was only four runs,” said Hammel, who benefitted from the Pirates running into outs much of the game. “It was definitely a battle. It was definitely a grind.”

Hammel (6-4) had a 14-inning scoreless streak entering the game and a 52-inning homerless streak until the McCutchen shot.

It was the Cubs’ third loss in four games since their season-high five-game winning streak last week. And they’re just three games into a grueling 10-game road trip – with the worst road record in the majors (11-23).

The Cubs tied the game, briefly, with a pair of runs in the second. Luis Valbuena, who three hits in the game, singled leading off, followed by a Nate Schierholtz walk and RBI single by John Baker that put runners at the corners.

Darwin Barney drove in the second run with a grounder to second.

Carlos Villanueva and Justin Grimm combined for three scoreless innings of relief.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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