Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle figured snapping a season-high seven-game losing streak would be no easy task.
Joel Hanrahan made it about as dramatic as it can get.
Hanrahan allowed two runs in the ninth, then struck out Dave Sappelt with the bases loaded to preserve a 7-6 win over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.
Andrew McCutchen homered and reached base four times for Pittsburgh, which had dropped 11 of 13 overall.
“If it was about everybody’s comfort, you’d choose to do it differently,” Hurdle said. “But usually when you push through something like we’re going through right now, it’s gonna take some drama, and it’s gonna take some wherewithal, and some confidence and some grit.
“It was enough today to get us out of the direction we were headed in and headed in a new direction.”
Wandy Rodriguez (11-13) held Chicago to three runs — one earned — in helping the Pirates stop their free-fall in the NL playoff race. Pittsburgh had lost 17 of 22, yet was just three games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card slot entering the day.
Rodriguez improved to 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last four starts after struggling initially upon being acquired midseason from Houston.
McCutchen launched Jason Berken’s pitch off the rear fence behind the left-field bleachers leading off the third, his 28th homer of the season. He also singled and walked twice, improving to .394 in 27 career games at Wrigley Field.
Hanrahan allowed Alfonso Soriano’s RBI single in the ninth and walked in a run, but held on for his 35th save.
“It’s obviously not how we write it up, especially with a seven-game losing streak, you want to go out there and have it go smooth,” Hanrahan said. “Being here in Chicago, dinner isn’t good until about 6 o’clock anyway, so keep us around a little bit.”
Starling Marte had an RBI triple, doubled and scored twice as Pittsburgh scored more than four runs for the first time since its losing streak began.