On the big stage of ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, in a sold-out PNC Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates completed a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers with a spectacular come from behind win. Down 5-1, they clawed back until the 7th, when they scored 9--count 'em NINE--runs, one on a sacrifice fly, one on an infield hit, two on a single by Cutch (who'd homered to center with one on in the 5th) and a titanic 3-run homer by Jung Ho Kang, who'd been hit by pitches in his previous two at-bats. Francisco Cervelli' s single in that 7th started the deluge by making it a 5-4 game, and he capped the victory in the 8th with a titanic home run into the upper deck in left.
The Pirates sweep of the Dodgers was about the best news the Giants got on Sunday. They were swept in Chicago--and it was a 4 game sweep--with a biting 2-0 loss. They had great chances all game to score runs, including in the 8th, and in the 9th they had the bases loaded with no outs. Jake Peavy pitched pretty well, though he threw a lot of pitches, and the bullpen held the line, but this time the injury-riddled lineup (losing Aoki during the game, and perhaps for longer) couldn't push over those runs against a dominant starter and closer.
So though the Giants lost no ground to the Dodgers, thanks to the Pirates, they fell way behind in the Wild Card race. The Cubs on the other hand have to feel great, and super-confident. They beat the World Champions four games straight, the kind of confidence-builder that a young team needs. They had plenty of good fortune as well, especially on Sunday when the game came down to a couple of feet shy of the center field wall for Hunter Pence's blast, and a disputed strike three on a 3-2 count to end the game.
Though the Giants come home for a day off, the games won't get any easier--they'll be playing good teams for awhile. Houston and Washington come in, then a perhaps fateful road trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh--with the two best records in baseball--and then guess who comes to SF? The Cubs.
Aoki got beaned Sunday and his availability won't be known until Tuesday. The Giants won't get Joe Panik and Mike Leake back until the series in St. Louis. Lots of speculation, bordering on panic, about quick acquisitions before things get completely out of hand.
Meanwhile, the Pirates have been doing a lot of winning without two key players, Jody Mercer and Harrison, and they both are off to rehab assignments early. The Pirates have a tough road trip coming up, starting with their nemesis St. Louis and then the currently high flying New York Mets.