(The Sports Xchange) - First baseman Anthony Rizzo’s sacrifice fly in the top of the 12th inning lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday and edged them closer to the first National League wild-card spot.
The Cubs (84-61) drew within three games of the Pirates (87-58) for the first wild-card spot and now hold a commanding eight-game lead for the second wild-card berth over the San Francisco Giants.
“You don’t want to think about the playoffs too much yet but if we keep winning games like this then I really like our chances of getting there,” Cubs second baseman Starlin Castro said.
The Pirates dropped four games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals (91-54), who won 5-4 at Milwaukee, in the NL Central while the Cubs stayed seven games behind.
Given a 2-0 lead going into the seventh inning, Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta was unable to hold it in his attempt to become the first pitcher to 20 wins this season when he allowed a run to score on a throwing error in the seventh.
“We won the game and that’s obviously the most important aspect but that throw was unacceptable on my part,” Arrieta said.
“That’s going to stay with me for a while because that’s how I am personally. I made a good pitch on Marte and then I could have cost us the ballgame with that throw to first base.”
Arrieta wound up allowing two runs and six hits in eight innings while striking out five and walking one.
He was attempting to become the first Cubs pitcher to win 20 games since 2001, when Jon Lieber went 20-6.
Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant had three hits and catcher Miguel Montero added two while Starling Marte and second baseman Neil Walker had two hits each for the Pirates.
“It was a fun game,” Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer said.
”We showed some resilience. We continued to fight and that’s what a lot of us are proud about.
“We gave us a chance to win at the end and against a pitcher like (Arrieta), that’s all you can ask for.”
Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett (8-6) pitched into the sixth inning in his second start since being activated from the disabled list after he recovered from a strained flexor tendon in his left elbow.
He gave up two runs and eight hits in 5-1/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Burnett took a shutout into the sixth inning before the Cubs scored twice on an RBI double by Bryant and a squeeze bunt by Castro.
Compiled by Greg Stutchbury