The Cubs finished their first homestand of the season with a 2-4 record, dropping them to 3-6.
Now things get really tough.
Immediately after Thursday's crushing 5-4 loss to the Pirates, the Cubs took off for St. Louis, where they face the Cardinals in three games this weekend. After that, it's off to the Bronx for a pair against the New York Yankees.
The opposition will be tough, and first year manager Rick Renteria will get his first taste of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. Renteria did not seem too familiar with it.
"Actually, I'm going to find out," he said. "Anytime we go out and play anybody, we're always looking to try to win. I don't take one club more important than another, but if there's something there, great. We welcome it.
"It's hard to argue with an organization that's had success over the years regardless what it is they do or don't do. You take things from every organization in baseball, but certainly they've had a tremendous amount of success over the last years and over their existence."
Nor did Renteria overplay the importance of the upcoming trip overall.
"Every road trip is tough," he said. "There's no easy game in the big leagues. Every major-league baseball game is tough to win. So I don't make this one any more important than the others."
Safe at home:
There was a bit of controversy involving the umpiring in the bottom of the fourth inning Thursday. Starlin Castro scored from second base on a two-out single by Welington Castillo.
The ball beat Castro home, and it looked like he was out, but home-plate umpire Mark Carlson called him safe. Carlson, who hails from Joliet, said Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez did not illegally block the plate before he had the ball.
"I didn't have him violating any rules for the collision play," Carlson told a pool reporter. "If he has the ball securely, he would have been able to block the plate. His (Castro's) foot touched the plate before the catcher had possession and control of the ball."
Castro conceded he might just as easily have been called out, but he also added Sanchez may have bobbled the ball.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle did not mount a replay challenge.
"No obstruction, none," Hurdle said "It never came up. I chose not to challenge."
Asked why not, he responded: "Because I chose not to challenge. If I give you any other answer, we got 10 more questions."
This and that:
Starlin Castro recorded his third 3-hit game of the year. He's at .342 for the season with a seven-game hitting streak (13-for-29 in the streak) … Anthony Rizzo has five-game hitting streak (11-for-18) … The Cubs are winless in their last eight series, dating to last year.