Yu Darvish pitched terrifically on Friday, but a lack of run support kept him from getting the victory. Jon Lester was determined not to meet the same fate as he delivered on the mound and at the plate in a big Cubs win.
Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant drew walks against Jordan Lyles to open the 1st inning and Anthony Rizzo snuck a ground ball base hit past shortstop to put Chicago up 1-0. Willson Contreras got a hanging curveball and a lifted a three-run homer to right field to make it a 4-0 advantage.
The Cubs did not let up on Lyles as Jason Heyward doubled and Addison Russell drew a free pass to put two on with one out. After Albert Almora Jr. struck out, Lester laced a two-run RBI single off the wall in left. Schwarber got his second walk of the inning and Lester came home on a Javy Báez double to add the extra point to the opening inning touchdown.
Lester pitched into the 7th inning as the Pirates picked up four garbage-time runs in the final five innings. The Cubs lead was never in doubt and Báez started an amazing double play to finish the 10-4 win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
The North Siders jumped all over Lyles in the opening inning as the Pirates starter failed to even finish the frame. The game was over before it even really started.
Contreras’ home run turned a good inning into a great one. With the opposing pitcher tiring from a long inning at a steamy Wrigley Field, the catcher got a mistake pitch and did not miss. Things rapidly got away from Pittsburgh after that.
Stats That Matter
- Lester was also good on the mound: 6.2 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 6 K, and 0 BB. After he helped build the big lead, he was aggressive and didn’t give his opponents any free base runners.
- Schwarber had a huge day with a single and a double to go along with the two walks. His patience had taken a dip recently so it was to see him work some counts.
- Jason Heyward continues to play great baseball. Three more hits have his OPS up to .827 for the season.
The Cubs have opened the second half with two quality starts. Not only that, they have secured their first series win since early June. Certainly the kind of start out of the break they were hoping for.