PITTSBURGH (AP) — One of the majors’ best stories only a month ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates are collapsing to the point they might not even be able to avoid shedding a dubious distinction they’ve carried for almost two decades.
Andrew McCutchen homered and Brock Holt had three hits for the Pirates, who have lost seven of nine and continue their freefall out of contention.
Pittsburgh (72-67) peaked at 16 games over .500 this season but now needs to go 9-14 just to avoid extending their North American major professional sports record of consecutive losing seasons to 20.
“We need to play better — that’s it,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I’m not going to get up here and point fingers or this and that or say this... I’m telling you how I feel — we’ve got to play batter. And that’s it. And they know that.”
Entering play on Aug. 9, the Pirates were 63-47, held a 2 1/2- game lead for a wild card spot and sat 2 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading Cincinnati.
Despite it all, Pittsburgh remains within striking distance of a playoff spot.
“We know we’re still in it,” cleanup hitter Garrett Jones said. “Our confidence is still high.”
Chicago is 6-20 on the road since the All-Star break, with five of those wins coming at PNC Park. The Cubs had lost eight consecutive road games before this series.