How it happened: Little used -- or known -- Darnell McDonald hit a three-run home run off Pirates ace Francisco Liriano in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie. McDonald actually went 3-for-3 off Liriano, collecting two doubles before his home run. The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back hits by Darwin Barney and Anthony Rizzo before the Pirates tied the game in the third on a bases-loaded walk to Justin Morneau. That was one of the few blemishes by starter Jake Arrieta, who only walked two while giving up four hits over six innings, out-pitching Liriano.
What it means: Arrieta secured the No. 4 or 5 spot in the rotation heading into spring training before Wednesday's final performance and his ceiling continues to be sky-high. A full season without the pressure of being a top-of-the-rotation guy -- he is a former Opening Day starter in Baltimore -- could see him finally fulfill his potential. His stuff was excellent again and might be among the best on the team. But stuff alone doesn't make a winning pitcher. He'll need to learn from his up and down year and advance from there. ... It was good to see Rizzo hit Liriano in his first two at-bats. He was right on the ball for both singles.
Outside the box: The Cubs' paid attendance for Wednesday was 26,171, bringing the 81-game total to 2,642,682. It's the lowest since 1998 and a drop-off of 240,074 from a year ago. Paid attendance at Wrigley Field has gone down for the fifth consecutive year. Major League Baseball doesn't release the number of actual bodies in the seats.
What's next: The Cubs have a day off on Thursday before opening their final series of the season in St. Louis. The Cardinals can clinch the division title with a win on Friday as Travis Wood (9-11, 2.98) will take on Lance Lynn (14-10, 4.09).