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Cubs win series, but end on frustrating note in 2-1 defeat against the Pirates

PITTSBURGH — It’s not a stretch to say the Cubs should’ve left here with a three-game sweep of the Pirates in their back pockets as they head to New York for four games against the Mets.

As it is, their 2-1 defeat in Wednesday’s finale left them a victory short of a true sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

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Let’s tick off a handful of the ways in which this game left a bad taste in the Cubs mouths:

Kyle Hendricks' fine night ended after only 71 pitches. (AP/Gene J. Puskar)

Losing pitcher Kyle Hendricks (4-4) was lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning even though he’d thrown only 71 pitches and was, in his estimation, in full command of his stuff. Tommy La Stella’s groundout with two on in the sixth left the Cubs behind 2-1.

“I thought I had a few more in me,” Hendricks said.

The Cubs wasted a rare three-hit night from right fielder Jason Heyward, who reached on a walk in his only other plate appearance. His teammates left 11 men on base and were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Third baseman Kris Bryant struck out against Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez with two on — including Heyward, who’d singled leading off — in the ninth to end the game.

And it was a strangely bad night for shortstop Addison Russell, who ran into first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a routine pop-up, had an ugly throwing error and nipped a key Cubs rally in the bud by getting himself picked off second base by Pirates starter Joe Musgrove (2-0).

Manager Joe Maddon called the pickoff “devastating.”

The Cubs fell to 5-10 in one-run games, a frustrating trend to say the least. But it was that kind of a night.

Bench-clearing non-incident

There was a brouhaha — well, sort of — between the teams after Musgrove slid hard into second baseman Javy Baez in a successful attempt to break up a double play. But nothing ended up happening, and we mean nothing.

Baez and Musgrove worked things out almost before anyone else arrived on the scene. After Maddon asked for a review to see if Musgrove’s slide past the bag was interference, umpires checked with New York only to determine that the play was not, in fact, reviewable.

“They’ll have to explain it to us,” Maddon said. “It was very unclear on the field.”

It was that kind of a series.

Edwards shut down

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. was placed on the 10-day disabled list with inflammation in his right (throwing) shoulder. Edwards was in between innings Tuesday when he told pitching coach Jim Hickey that he couldn’t continue.

“Whenever he gets throwing again, he gets throwing again,” Maddon said.

Right-hander Cory Mazzoni was recalled from Class AAA Iowa and pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning Wednesday.


Cubs at Mets

Thursday: Jose Quintana (5-4, 4.78) vs. Seth Lugo (1-1, 2.48), 6:10 p.m., NBCSCH, 670-AM.

Friday: Tyler Chatwood (3-4, 4.10) vs. Zack Wheeler (2-4, 5.40), 6:10 p.m., NBCSCH+, 670-AM.

Saturday: Mike Montgomery (1-1, 4.35) vs. Jacob deGrom (4-0, 1.52), 6:15 p.m., Fox-32, 670-AM.

Sunday: Jon Lester (5-2, 2.71) vs. Steven Matz (2-3, 3.55), 12:10 p.m., Ch. 7, 670-AM.