Cubs Sweep Pirates In Pittsburgh, Win Fifth Straight

Geovany Soto of the Chicago Cubs trots into home plate after hitting a solo home run against James McDonald of the Pittsburgh Pirates during a game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

You have just witnessed something that no Cubs team has done in 52 years -- sweep the Pirates in a four-game series in Pittsburgh.

The last time this happened, the winning pitchers were Glen Hobbie, Moe Drabowsky, John Buzhardt and Elmer Singleton. Don Elston got a couple of saves (even though it would be another year before the save was officially invented), and Ernie Banks, on his way to his second straight MVP season, hit a home run in the first of the four games. The dates were June 5, June 6, and a twin bill on June 7.

The Cubs have just completed one of the wackiest road trips in their history, losing the first five games and then winning the final five for a .500 trip -- only their second non-losing road trip of the season, and their first since they split six games with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers in late April and early May.

And, perhaps best of all, the Cubs' 7-6 win over the Pirates included coming from behind after blowing a 4-0 lead and coughing up a six-run inning in which seemingly everyone in the entire state of Pennsylvania got an extra-base hit off Rodrigo Lopez.

The Cubs fashioned their 4-0 lead thanks to three home runs -- solo shots by Geovany Soto and Carlos Pena, and a two-run homer from the guy none of us wanted to see starting in left field tonight, Blake DeWitt.

But the Pirates fought back, scoring six runs in the fourth on what seemed an endless parade of hits, capped by a three-run double by pitcher James McDonald, who came into the game with a lifetime batting average of .059 (4-for-68) with zero RBI.

The Pirates pretty much gave the game back to the Cubs in the eighth inning, with a pair of singles ahead of Darwin Barney. Barney tried to sacrifice; instead he got hit by a pitch. A soft Aramis Ramirez single made it 6-5, and a bases-loaded walk tied the game. Every time you looked up, a different Pirates pitcher was giving up a run, and finally Marlon Byrd, who had recorded his 1,000th career hit earlier in the game, drove in what proved to be the gamewinner with a sacrifice fly.

I had visions of the game remaining tied, and going 18 innings, and the Cubs having to go directly to Wrigley Field from O'Hare. But James Russell, Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol (23rd save, and third in this series) finished up, and the Cubs' plane is scheduled to land about 11:40 CT, enough time for them to get home and sleep some before Friday's afternoon game against the Reds.

Even the fact that Mike Quade had used up both of his real outfielders -- Tony Campana and Reed Johnson -- and had to put Alfonso Soriano in for DeWitt, didn't hurt this game. One of Marmol's outs was a 400-foot fly ball leading off the ninth by Steve Pearce, but Byrd ran it down.

Five in a row. Dizzying heights, this. Can they continue over the weekend? The sweep helped put the Pirates 6.5 games out of first place and perhaps edging out of contention. The Reds are in even worse shape, 7.5 games behind the NL Central leading Brewers; a Cub victory in the weekend series could put the Reds on the road to oblivion.

I'd like that. Go Cubs. Let's keep it going.

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