Recap: Pirates 2, Cubs 1
Pirates 2, Cubs 1: Starling Marte homered with two outs in the ninth inning and Nate Schierholtz was cut down at the plate to end the game as visiting Pittsburgh clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1992.
Neil Walker also homered for the Pirates, who locked up a postseason berth when Washington lost to St. Louis but still trails the Cardinals by two games in the National League Central. Walker's 14th blast - matching his career high set last season - came on an opposite-field shot against Jeff Samardzija.
Marte's 12th home run - a deep drive to left off Kevin Gregg (2-6) - made a winner of Mark Melancon (3-2), who allowed the Cubs to tie it in the eighth. Schierholtz tried to score from first when Ryan Sweeney singled to right and Marlon Byrd bobbled the ball, but Andrew McCutchen and Justin Morneau relayed the ball to the plate for the final out as Jason Grilli recorded his 32nd save.
Pirates starter Charlie Morton struck out five and allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings. The Cubs threatened in the second when Sweeney drew a two-out walk and Brian Bogusevic followed with a double, but Morton retired Darwin Barney to begin a string of nine straight and Chicago didn't advance another runner past first base until the eighth.
Bogusevic led off the eighth with a sharp single up the middle against Melancon, moved to second on Barney's chopper back to the mound and took third on a ball in the dirt before pinch hitter Donnie Murphy slapped a single through a drawn-in infield to plate the tying run.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The Pirates have homered in six straight games, and Walker has gone deep in four of the past five. … Samardzija struck out seven, walked four and allowed one run on five hits over six innings. … Melancon has blown saves in his last three outings after converting 16 of his first 18 save chances.