Chicago Cubs avoid second straight loss with 7-2 win over Pirates
The Chicago Cubs entered Monday night’s series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates having lost to the Atlanta Braves Sunday afternoon. They were looking to avoid yet another two-game losing streak with right-hander Jason Hammel on the mound.
A rematch from last season’s National League Wild Card game between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates was set. Two hard-throwing right-handers in Jason Hammel and Gerrit Cole went head-to-head but it was the North Siders who would claim the first game of a three-game set on ESPN.
Hammel (4-0, 1.24 ERA) stepped to the bump with an earned run average that sat at 0.75 to begin the season. And for the first time this year, he was taken deep. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen put the Pirates (15-11) on the board during the home half of the first with a home run to right-center field.
The Cubs (18-6) would later respond by tallying two runs in the third inning, putting the pressure on Cole. Cole (2-2, 3.95 ERA) was pestered by base runners almost all night as they would swipe three with center fielder Dexter Fowler leading the charge with two of his own.
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Fowler finished the game 2-for-4 with a run scored, walk and a strikeout to add to those stolen bases. He led off the evening with a base hit to right field and later doubled to left while hitting on the opposite end of the dish.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo tied things up with an RBI double in the third, sending Fowler across home plate. Rizzo soon followed when second baseman Ben Zobrist singled on a line drive to right field.
With a two-run lead behind him, Hammel continued to deal. In what was his shortest outing of the year (five innings), Jason held the Pirates to two earned runs on five hits while issuing one walk and striking out three. He found himself in trouble to start off the sixth and was removed from the game after plunking Starling Marte.
Next: Szczur, La Stella proving their worth
Veteran catcher, David Ross, capped off a four-run fifth inning with a two-run single down the right-field line with the bases loaded. This pushed Chicago’s lead out to 5-1 before putting himself in a run down that allowed Matt Szczur to score on a throwing error by Josh Harrison.
The Cubbies will have an opportunity to pick up another series win when Jake Arrieta takes the mound opposite Jon Niese tomorrow evening.