The Chicago Cubs fell back to earth a bit due to a great pitching performance from Pirates starter Gerrit Cole who pitched eight shutout innings giving up just three hit to the Cubs.
While Cubs lefty Jon Lester had his no-hitter broken up in the top of the seventh on a single by Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte, who later stole second base and later scored on a double by Jung-Ho Kang, the Pirates’ talented third baseman.
Cole (4-3, 3.05 ERA) was on his game. The powerful lineup of Chicago was kept at bay. He gave up just three base hits, one a double by Ben Zobrist in the fourth inning. Lester (4-2. 1.88 ERA) was equally splendid, no-hitting Pittsburgh until the seventh inning.
Cole threw 95 pitches and struck out seven batters. Lester was equally strong, whiffing nine Pirates while walking just two. He threw 109 pitches and was lifted.
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It was a pitchers game until the late innings. When the Pirates nursing a one-run lead, jumped on Cub’s reliever Hector Rondon who came in to start the ninth inning.
Kang greeted him with a homer to put the Pirates ahead 2-0. At that time, a 2-0 lead loomed largely. The Cubs mounted a rally in the bottom of the ninth. Dexter Fowler leadoff with a walk. Jason Heyward singled, Fowler going to third base with no outs.
Then Kris Bryant flew to center field. That brought up power hitter Anthony Rizzo who hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Fowler. The Cubs had cut the lead to 2-1 with Ben Zobrist at the plate.
Heyward stole second base to get into scoring position but the hot hitting Zobrist, who had gone 1-3 in the game, grounded out to 2nd base to end the game.
The Cubs falling, if you will, to (27-9) the best record in the majors. The Pirates, who started the day nine games behind Chicago improved to 19-17.
Again it was another quality start for the Cubs starting rotation. This time, Lester went into the seventh before he gave up a hit.
This season the Cubs had bested Pittsburgh in their first five games and outscored them 37-11. Eventually, the Pirates would have to win and today it took a great effort by Cole to earn the W.
Kang came through with the clutch hitting, something the Cubs have done of late, but today, the Chicago Cubs came up a just a base hit short.