Cubs sink Pirates behind Lester's dominance


by - Senior Writer -
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Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester cruised through the Pirates' batting order in six innings of work. (Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester cruised through the Pirates' batting order in six innings of work. (Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

PITTSBURGH — A solo home run by the hometown hero was just enough for the Chicago Cubs (70-50) to squeak out a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates (61-61) at PNC Park on Thursday night. Cubs left fielder Ian Happ, a Pittsburgh native, skied a home run in the top of the fourth for the lone scoring play of the contest, as the North Siders shut the Pirates out behind a dominant performance by starting pitcher Jon Lester.

After struggling through a string of woeful appearances in recent weeks, Lester returned to top form by fanning eight in a scoreless six-inning stint. Leading the Cubs to a 1-0 win, Lester faced few threats from Pirates hitting on the evening. Earning the win, Lester moved to 13-5 overall. Neither team was particularly adept on the offensive end. The Cubs tallied seven hits and one walk, and the Buccos accrued six hits and zero walks.

The Cubs first garnered a scoring opportunity in the top of the third, when a pair of two-out singles by Javier Baez and Jason Heyward put men on the corners. However, David Bote flied out to end the inning. Happ made up for it in the next frame with his 13th long ball of the year. Coming on an effortless swing, the solo dinger cruised 426 feet out to right-center off Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova.


Nova received an unfortunate losing decision for a solid one-run outing that lasted 6.2 innings. He gave up seven hits and struck out three en route to dropping to 7-7 overall. Interestingly, Nova had the best chance to tie the game for his club after Happ's home run. With runners on first and third and two outs in the fifth, Nova struck out swinging to enable Lester to escape the jam unscathed.

For the remainder of the ballgame, the Cubs kept the Pirates at bay. Baez contributed to that with a stellar defensive play. After receiving a throw from catcher Willson Contreras on a steal attempt, Baez applied a no-look tag while falling down to out Pittsburgh's Starling Marte in the sixth. The Bucs failed to advance a player into scoring position for the remainder of the game after that, with Cubs reliever Pedro Strop attaining his 10th save in the ninth to close out the 1-0 Cubs win.

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