Game One Hundred Forty-Four – Cubs 2, Pirates 1
WP – Jon Lester (10-10) LP – J.A. Happ (5-2) Save – None
Jon Lester finished what he started Tuesday night as the Cubs beat the Pirates in game two of the day-night doubleheader. Lester went the distance for the first time this season and snapped the Cubs three-game skid.
Jon Lester gave up one run on five hits, all singles, with one walk, a hit batsman and nine strikeouts. Lester appeared to get stronger as the game wore on. Lester took a three-hit shutout into the seventh before the Pirates got on the board. Back-to-back singles from Aramis Ramirez and Francisco Cervelli started the seventh. Ramirez scored the Pirates only run when Michael Morse grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Lester retired the last seven batters he faced, four with strikeouts. Lester made 111 pitches, 71 for strikes. And Lester picked off Starling Marte from first base in the third inning. Marte broke too soon. Lester stepped off the back of the mound, made a lob pass to Anthony Rizzo. Marte was caught in a rundown and tagged out.
Anthony Rizzo (1-for-3 with a walk and a RBI) gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a single to right that plated Austin Jackson (1-for-5 with a double and a run scored). And Dexter Fowler (1-for-5 with a double and a RBI) doubled in David Ross (2-for-4 with a double and a run scored) in the fifth. The Cubs pounded out eight hits, four doubles, and walked two times. The Cubs left nine men on base after going 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a double) had two more hits. Starlin Castro (1-for-4) and Kris Bryant (0-for-3 with a walk) reached base.
The defense stepped up behind Jon Lester in the nightcap. Kris Bryant made a leaping at the wall in right. Addison Russell started a sensational double play in the seventh that helped limit the Pirates to one run in the inning. And Javier Baez made two highlight reel plays in the fourth among the seven he turned in at the hot corner Tuesday night.
With Tuesday night’s win, the Cubs improved to 83-61 on the season and moved back to within four games of the Pirates in the NL Wild Card race.
Dexter Fowler flied out to center for the first out of the game. Austin Jackson blistered a 0-2 pitch between the first base bag and the line. The ball hit off the side wall and Jackson motored to second with a double. Bryant struck out swinging.
Anthony Rizzo ripped the first pitch from Happ into right and through the shift. Jackson scored, 1-0 Cubs. Starlin Castro smoked a 1-0 pitch to left. Marte ran in and made a sliding catch to end the inning. Happ made 11 pitches, 10 for strikes in the first inning.
The Pirates managed a two-out single by Andrew McCutchen in the first inning, but that was all. After McCutchen swiped second, Aramis Ramirez rolled out to Castro at second to end the inning. Lester took 11 pitches, eight for strikes, to get through the first inning.
At the end of one complete, it was 1-0 Cubs.
David Ross led off the fifth with the Cubs nursing a 1-0 lead. Ross worked a full count. Ross drove the eighth pitch of the at bat to deep right. The ball hit high off the wall and Ross lumbered to second with a double. Jon Lester bunted. Happ threw to third, instead of getting the sure out. Ross got his foot on the bag ahead of Ramirez’s tag. The Pirates challenged. The call on the field stood and the Cubs had runners on the corners with no outs.
Dexter Fowler pulled Happ’s first pitch after the review delay to deep left center. Ross scored, 2-0 Cubs, and Lester held at third on a double by Fowler. Clint Hurdle brought his infield in with runners on second and third with no outs.
Austin Jackson and Kris Bryant struck out swinging. And Starlin Castro popped out to right for the third out. The Cubs wasted an opportunity to score … 2-for-8 with RISP and six left on base in five innings.
The Pirates went down in order in the fifth … 62 pitches for Lester after five innings, 43 for strikes.
The Cubs led 2-0 after five innings.
The Cubs did not cash in a Javier Baez leadoff double in the sixth. Baez was thrown out at the plate on a safety squeeze and by the end of the sixth, the Cubs were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.
Jon Lester set the Pirates down in order in the sixth. Lester needed 74 pitches, 51 for strikes, to complete six innings.
After six complete, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead.
Arquimedes Caminero worked around an error by Pedro Florimon with one out in the seventh. Aramis Ramirez took a hit away from Rizzo with a leaping catch and Castro grounded out to second to end the inning.
The Pirates had three singles off Lester in the first six innings. Aramis Ramirez started the seventh with a soft single to center. Francisco Cervelli singled to left center. Ramirez moved to third with no outs. Michael Morse pounded a 3-1 pitch back up the middle. Addison Russell showed off his excellent range, got to the ball and flipped it to Castro, 6-4-3 double play as Ramirez scored from third … 2-1 Cubs. Lester hit Sean Rodriguez with a 3-1 offering. Clint Hurdle sent up Jung Ho Kang to hit for Florimon. A 0-1 pitch bounced past Ross. Rodriguez went to second. Lester struck out Kang swinging (2-2 pitch) to end the inning.
The Cubs led 2-1 after seven innings.
Arquimedes Caminero struck out the side swinging in the eighth (Baez, Russell and Ross) and Lester went out for the eighth. Lester pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out Josh Harrison and Starling Marte for the final two outs.
The Cubs did nothing against Antonio Bastardo in the ninth. And Lester took the hill for the ninth with the Cubs leading 2-1.
Jon Lester retired McCutchen (grounder to short) and Ramirez (pop out to center) on two pitches to start the ninth. And Lester caught Cervelli looking to end the game.
Jake Arrieta faces A.J. Burnett on Wednesday night (6:05pm CDT).