Cubs Sweep Pirates: Best start since 1907
|Wednesday, May 4, 2016 4:04 PM- -|
The Chicago Cubs (20-6) overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Pirates (15-12) 6-2 to complete the three-game road sweep at PNC Park and now have won seven out of their last eight games.
The Cubs are off to their best start through 26 games since the 1907 Cubs team that went an incredible 22-4.
Amazingly, the Cubs are now 22-3 in their last 25 regular season road games dating back to last season.
The Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist opened up the offensive fireworks with a three-run homer to right center field in the third inning. It was his second home run of the season.
The Pirates had their chances with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, but Jon Lester escaped Houdini-like without any damage.
In the top of the fifth inning, Anthony Rizzo doubled and then Javier Baez drove him home with his own double to make it Cubs 4-0. The Pirates had runners on first and third but third baseman David Freese and left fielder Starling Marte went down swinging to end another Pirates' threat.
Lester was taken out after 103 pitches with two outs with two base runners on in the sixth inning as he labored through the last two innings of play. He went 5.2 innings giving up eight hits but no runs, two walks while striking out five.
His ERA is now down to 1.58 and Lester has allowed only 33 hits while striking out 38 batters on the season.
Adam Warren came in to retire pinch-hitter John Jaso with a weak grounder to first base to end the sixth inning.
Rizzo blasted his ninth homer of the season in the top of the seventh inning to put the Cubs up 5-0. He has six home runs and 16 RBIs in his last 12 games and is on pace for 56 homers and 168 RBIs for the season.
Matt Joyce hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh against Warren. It was the first earned runs that Warren has given up in 2016.
In the eight inning, Sean Rodriguez jawed with the Cubs dugout but struck out weakly by a Pedro Strop slider. Strop and Rodriguez glared at each other for a few moments before Rodriguez walked back to his dugout.
Kris Bryant had a line drive single to continue his 10-game hitting streak in the top of the ninth inning. The Cubs had men on base in 23 out of the 27 innings this series. Bryant scored on an RBI fielder's choice by Javier Baez to make it 6-2.
Cubs closer Hector Rondon worked a perfect ninth inning including a strike out of Andrew McCutchen to finish off the Pirates. The Cubs are the first major league team to reach 20 wins on the season.
The run differential for the series was a dominating 20-3 for the Cubs over the Pirates, and the Cubs hold a major league leading +93 run differential on the season.
The Cubs will start a four-game home series with the Washington Nationals on Thursday at 7 PM CT with righty Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.52 ERA) on the mound vs. righty Joe Ross (3-0, 0.79 ERA).