“We had some opportunities; we just didn’t execute.”
McCutchen’s homer, his 25th, was his NL-leading 173rd hit. It ended a streak of five consecutive homerless games for the Pirates — their longest of the season.
Grilli earned the loss in relief for the second straight night.
A pair of rookie left-handers started and pitched well but came away with no-decisions.
Making the third start of his career, Chicago’s Chris Rusin allowed one run on five hits with four strikeouts in five innings. He left the game in line for his first major league victory, but the Pirates tied it in the seventh when Holt scored on a balk by James Russell (7-1).
Rusin allowed five runs on eight hits in one-plus inning during his previous outing.
Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke gave up the homers to Vitters and Recker in the fourth but overall scattered seven hits over six innings. It was similar to his previous outing Monday against the Astros when he was largely effective but was hurt by a Brett Wallace three-run homer.
“You don’t get a whole lot of get-out-of-jail-free cards here (in the majors),” Locke said. “You make bad pitches, hitters are going capitalize, and that happened today and that’s what happened last week. They say solo homers never hurt you — but multiple ones, that adds up.”
Notes: The Pirates activated RHP Chad Qualls from the disabled list before the game. He retired both batters he faced in the eighth. ... Locke singled in the fifth, his first hit in the majors. ... The Pirates will play three games at the Reds starting Monday. The previous time Pittsburgh played in Cincinnati Aug 3-5, it entered trailing by 3 1/2 games in the NL Central. Five weeks later, the Pirates are in third place and 11 back. ... The Cubs head to Houston, where they will play their final series there against the Astros with both teams part of the National League. The Astros move to the AL West next season.