It was a big game for the Cubs, who wrapped up their shaky visit to Pittsburgh with a much-needed W thanks to some 4th of July fireworks.
Kris Bryant started the scoring with a 1st inning home run to right-center and the Cubs went up 2-0 in the 2nd when Albert Almora Jr. hit a 416-foot solo shot. The Pirates struck back in the bottom of the inning when Jung Ho Kang drove in Jose Osuna and then scored on an Elias Diaz sacrifice fly to tie the game.
In the 3rd, Willson Contreras hit a two-run home run to put the Cubs up 4-2. Josh Bell flew out to center to score Kevin Newman, but it felt like a win just to limit the damage Bell had been inflicting on the Cubs this series.
The heart of the Cubs’ order did the work in the 5th inning, with Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Contreras chasing Pirates starter Jordan Lyles from the game on consecutive hits. A Robel Garcia single, a David Bote hit-by-pitch, and a Kyle Schwarber walk put the Cubs ahead 7-3. Javy Báez drove in two on a single to make the score 9-3.
The Cubs sealed the deal in the 6th, with Rizzo scoring on a Contreras groundout and Garcia hitting the first homer of his career to make the score 11-3. After 7 innings, Cubs starter José Quintana ceded the ball to Tyler Chatwood and then Steve Cishek, who each worked clean innings to wrap up the game and the series. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
It was a rough start, but a five-run top of the 5th put the Cubs ahead for good. There were some questionable choices on the basepaths in the inning, but in the context of the last few games, aggressive mistakes may be preferable to defensive miscues.
- Garcia, newly promoted from Iowa, had a rough start to the game but improved quickly. He struck out with runners in scoring position and bobbled a double play ball in the 1st, but had a multi-hit game, including a triple and a home run.
- Quintana had a quality start, giving up three runs on six hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
- Joe Maddon was ejected from the game in the 4th inning, when a few pitches came inside to Baez and Maddon headed to the Pirates dugout after manager Clint Hurdle.
Stats that Matter
- Bryant’s home run was his 17th of the season.
- Contreras has 52 RBI on the season.
- The Cubs are tied with the Brewers atop the Central at the end of Thursday’s action. The Cubs’ 3-7 record over the last 10 games is worse than the Brewers’ 4-6 record, but the Crew dropped three of four in Cincinnati.
Plenty of runners were left in scoring position, but the Cubs finally seemed to be stringing together several hits in an inning. The offense got to Lyles and the Pirates bullpen, and a much-needed off day awaits the team Friday.
The Cubs visit the White Sox Saturday at 6:15pm CT. Jon Lester (7-6, 3.89 ERA) takes the mound against Lucas Giolito (11-2, 2.72 ERA) to kick off a two-game series before the All-Star break. You can catch the game on FOX and at 670 The Score.