Game Thirty-Six – Cubs 4, Pirates 1
WP – Jon Lester (4-2) LP – Gerrit Cole (5-2) Save – Travis Wood (1)
Jon Lester limited the Pirates to one run over seven innings and and outdueled Gerrit Cole. Joe Maddon pieced together a bullpen that had Travis Wood pitching the ninth inning. Starlin Castro drove in the first two runs. Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo manufactured two runs in the seventh as the Cubs scratched out a win over the Pirates on Saturday afternoon.
Jon Lester gave Joe Maddon exactly what the Cubs’ skipper needed. Lester held the Pirates to a Sean Rodriguez solo homer over seven innings on a very difficult day to pitch in at Wrigley Field. Lester bent but did not break in route to the Cubs’ sixth straight win.
Jon Lester reached a milestone in his career Saturday. Lester recorded strikeout No. 1,500 in the fourth inning when Sean Rodriguez was caught looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
The Pirates had runners in scoring position in four straight innings against Lester. But he made the big pitches when he needed and held on to the one-run lead while he was on the mound. Lester caught Andrew McCutchen looking with two on to end the seventh inning … and his outing.
Jon Lester allowed one run on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. Lester made 110 pitches, 74 for strikes, over seven innings. And he turned the game over to the bullpen in the eighth with the Cubs leading 4-1.
With the game on the line, Phil Coke retired Gregory Polanco on a grounder to the mound. Jason Motte struck out Pedro Alvarez and Chris Stewart on a fly out to right to end the inning. And Joe Maddon used Travis Wood for the ninth inning.
Travis Wood’s first appearance out of the Cubs’ bullpen resulted in a save, the first of his professional career. Travis Wood had not pitched a game in relief since Sept. 17, 2011 when he was with the Reds.
Cubs’ pitching allowed one run on 11 hits with eight strikeouts and one walk. The Pirates were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base.
The Cubs offense did just enough to beat Gerrit Cole for the first time. Cole is now 6-1 in seven career starts against the Cubs.
Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a sac fly, two RBI and a stolen base) drove in the Cubs’ first two runs of the game. Castro hit a sac fly in the first inning that allowed Kris Bryant (2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored) to tag and score. In the third, Castro gave the Cubs the lead for good when he put the ball in play with Bryant on third. Castro grounded into a 5-4 force out as Bryant scored the go ahead run.
The Cubs manufactured two runs in the seventh inning without a hit.
Addison Russell (0-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and a run scored) walked, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch. Dexter Fowler (1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) walked in the seventh, moved to second on the wild pitch Russell scored on, went to third on a balk and scored on an Anthony Rizzo (2-for-3 with a RBI and a stolen base) sac fly.
Jorge Soler (2-for-3 with a HBP) quietly collected two more hits.
The Cubs made the most of the eight hits, four walks and a HBP on the afternoon.
With Saturday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 21-15 on the season.
The Pirates went down in order in the first inning. Jon Lester threw 12 pitches, nine for strikes, in the opening inning.
The Cubs came out swinging against Gerrit Cole and put an early run on the board. Dexter Fowler flied out to left for the first out. Kris Bryant singled to right center (0-1 pitch) and moved to third on a single to right by Anthony Rizzo. Bryant would have scored, but the ball kicked off the side wall and right to Sean Rodriguez. Gary Jones threw up the stop sign.
Starlin Castro stepped in with runners on the corners and one out. Castro pulled a 1-0 pitch to deep left center. McCutchen ranged back and caught the ball near the wall. Bryant tagged and scored, 1-0 Cubs. Rizzo swiped second with Coghlan at the plate but Chris Coghlan grounded out to second for the third out. Gerrit Cole made 15 pitches in the first, nine for strikes.
After one, the Cubs led 1-0.
Jon Lester faced the minimum in the second inning. Jung Ho Kang singled to left with one out but was erased when Corey Hart grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning … 19 pitches for Lester after two innings, 14 for strikes.
The Cubs could not cash in a Jorge Soler leadoff single to right in the second. And after two complete, the Cubs led 1-0.
Sean Rodriguez pulled Lester’s first pitch of the third inning into the bleachers in left center. Rodriguez’s solo homer tied the game at one. Lester walked Chris Stewart. Gerrit Cole bunted Stewart to second. Lester retired Harrison (liner to short) and Walker (tap back to the mound) to end the inning. Lester made 37 pitches, 24 for strikes, in three innings.
Dexter Fowler led off the third with a single to right center. Cole quickly jumped ahead of Bryant 0-2. Fowler took off for second on a 2-2 pitch to Bryant and Stewart threw him out. The play was close and he appeared to be safe. Maddon challenged but the call was upheld. Kris Bryant walked and went to third on a single to right center by Anthony Rizzo.
Starlin Castro rolled a 1-0 pitch toward the hole at short. Josh Harrison cut the ball off and forced Rizzo at second base. Bryant scored, 2-1 Cubs. Castro swiped second before Gerrit Cole caught Coghlan looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning.
After three innings, the Cubs had a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs could not add to the lead against Gerrit Cole in the middle innings. And the game went to the seventh with the Cubs clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Jon Lester worked out of jams in the fourth through six innings. Lester threw 89 pitches, 59 for strikes, over the first six innings.
Josh Harrison and Neil Walker reached on infield singles with two outs and McCutchen stepped to the plate. And Lester caught Andrew McCutchen looking at a 1-2 pitch with runners on the corners to end the seventh.
Jon Lester showed a lot of emotion walking off the field following the strikeout of McCutchen to end the inning.
The Cubs added two big runs in the seventh inning without a hit.
Arquimedes Caminero replaced Gerrit Cole for the seventh inning. The flame thrower could not throw strikes after he retired Jonathan Herrera, hitting for Lester, swinging at a 0-2 pitch.
Addison Russell walked (3-1 pitch). Russell took off for second on a 2-2 pitch to Fowler. Russell swiped his first bag in the big leagues and went to third when the ball ended up in center field. Fowler walked and put runners on the corners for Kris Bryant.
A wild pitch on a 1-0 offering to Bryant allowed Russell to scored, 3-1 Cubs. Fowler went to second and then moved to third when Caminero balked. Bryant walked and Rizzo stepped in with runners on first and third with one out.
Anthony Rizzo drove a 0-1 pitch to left. Fowler tagged and scored, 4-1 Cubs. Castro popped out to Stewart to end the inning.
With the bullpen in shambles, Joe Maddon sent the recently recalled Brian Schlitter in to start the eighth inning. Schlitter just can’t get a pitch past a Major League hitter.
Starling Marte singled to right center and moved to third on a double into the left field corner off the bat of Jung Ho Kang. With runners on second and third and no outs, Maddon went to his pen for Phil Coke.
Gregory Polanco tapped back to Coke for the first out. Maddon made the slow walk again and brought in Jason Motte to face Sean Rodriguez. Clint Hurdle countered with Pedro Alvarez.
Jason Motte struck out Alvarez swinging on a 2-2 pitch and Chris Stewart flied out to right to end the inning.
The Cubs did not add on in the eighth against Antonio Bastardo and Travis Wood made his way in from the bullpen for the ninth inning.
Travis Wood retired the Pirates in order (Cervelli, Harrison and Walker) to end the game.
Weather permitting … Jake Arrieta and A.J. Burnett square off in the series finale on Sunday afternoon (1:20pm CDT).