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Pirates 4, Cubs 2: The Jake Arrieta mystery

Why can’t the Cubs righthander have any consistency?

Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

I wish I understood Jake Arrieta.

He’ll be going along just fine, then boom! An inning happens when he just gets pounded. And that results in a Cubs defeat.

That’s what happened Saturday night at Wrigley Field and the Cubs dropped under .500 yet again with a 4-2 loss to the Pirates.

Jake was sailing along through three innings with just three baserunners when Josh Bell doubled to lead off the fourth. He advanced on a passed ball and eventually scored on an infield out.

1-0. That’s not too tough to overcome, is it?

It wasn’t. Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber put the Cubs in the lead with back-to-back jacks.

Here’s Happ’s [VIDEO].

And here’s Kyle’s:

Both to the opposite field, and that produced this fun fact:

And that quickly, it’s 2-1 Cubs.

But Jake couldn’t hold the lead. Four of the first five hitters in the sixth inning had hits, all of them hit hard. That included a two-run homer from Gregory Polanco, and after Jake recorded the second out of the inning on his 107th pitch, Joe took him out of the game in favor of Brian Duensing (who, incidentally, has been really good most of this year).

Duensing struck out Adam Frazier to end the inning, but the Cubs decided to make this game one in which they had trouble getting baserunners. Even though it was still just the sixth inning, the game was essentially over.

Besides the two home runs, the Cubs had only five baserunners all night. Just two of them got past first base and another was erased on a double play. After Ivan Nova left the game with two out in the seventh, the Cubs did manage to get a man to third in the eighth. Tommy La Stella doubled with one out and advanced on an infield out. But after that, Clint Hurdle called on his closer Felipe Rivero, who issued a walk but then ended the threat by getting Anthony Rizzo to ground out. Rivero then had a 1-2-3 ninth which included several pitches flying past Cubs hitters at 101 miles per hour.

Rivero was traded to the Pirates from the Nationals late last July for Mark Melancon. Think the Nats could use him about now?

The tone for this one was probably set with the Cubs’ first batter of the game, Ben Zobrist, who laced a ball to left-center that looked like it might drop for a double. Andrew McCutchen said, “Nope”:

Credit where credit is due — McCutchen can still pick it. I imagine when the Pirates get Starling Marte back from his PED suspension, Marte goes to left field and McCutchen stays in center.

It was nice to see Schwarber have a good day, with two hits including the home run — both to the opposite field — and a walk. Schwarber took extra BP before Saturday’s game:

Unfortunately, the three men batting after Kyle (Willson Contreras, Jason Heyward and Javier Baez) went 0-for-10 with four strikeouts.

The Cubs missed an opportunity to pick up ground on the Brewers, who lost to the Yankees via a three-run walkoff homer by Clint Frazier (no relation to Adam), and so remain 4½ games behind in the N.L. Central. They will once again try to get back to the .500 mark Sunday. A victory would do that, as well as send the Cubs into the All-Star break with a series win. They’re just not playing with any consistency — seems like every time they win, you think, “Well, they’ve turned the corner,” only to find there’s another obstacle beyond that corner.

It was a beautiful night at the ol’ ballyard:

Perfect weather, full house... but no winning baseball.

Sunday’s final game before the break features Jon Lester starting for the Cubs and Jameson Taillon for the Pirates. A reminder of the unusual starting time, 12:10 p.m. CT (asked for by TBS, who is carrying this game nationally). The game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.