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Chicago Cubs power past Pirates in Game 2 at Wrigley

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Aug 30, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) hits a two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 30, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (44) hits a two-run home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Behind a stellar performance from their starter, the Chicago Cubs (85-47)are starting to show a signs of a team focusing on fundamental baseball. They manufactured runs, made hustle plays, and played exceptional defense throughout the game.

Final. 0. 4. 3. 9

After a late night thriller in Game 1 with 13 combined runs, the Cubs only needed three runs to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-63) in Game 2.

Kyle Hendricks (13-7, 2.09 ERA) went seven innings, giving up three runs, striking out four and walking only one. Hendricks has been consistently effective this year, throwing only 98 pitches, and a first pitch strike to 14 of the first 19 batters he faced. Lowering his league-leading ERA to 2.09.

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Hendricks proved exactly why the Cubs nicknamed him “The Professor” by limiting the Pirates power hitters—Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen, and Josh Bell—to a 2-for-12 performance. The lone hit belonged to Polanco, a weak single up the middle.

Anthony Rizzo gave the Cubs an early lead with a two-run home run  in the bottom of the first.

Last night’s hero, Miguel Montero, continued to show his situational prowess. Singled in Russell following a leadoff walk and stolen base in the bottom of the second. With RISP, Montero is hitting .259/.362/.728 this season.

Third baseman Kris Bryant hit a blooper just past the glove of a diving Bell in the bottom of the third, hustling his way to second for a double.

The Pirates have won seven of the last eight starts that Chad Kuhl started. Last time he faced the Cubs in July, he lasted 2 1/3 innings seven hits and four earned runs. Since then, he hadn’t given up more than two earned runs in a start.

This past week has seen Jason Heyward start to heat up at the plate. In his last seven games, he’s hitting .375 with one home run and four RBIs and three doubles.  Tonight, Heyward went 0-for-3 with one strikeout but continued to make solid contact.

Control seems to be the detriment of Kuhl tonight. He lasted five innings, throwing 84 pitches, giving up four hits, three earned runs, and issued two walks. Kuhl also hit Javier Baez to begin the night, resulting in Rizzo’s home run and an early deficit for Pittsburgh.

Next: Cubs have found a situational weapon in Montero

Carl Edwards Jr. had another solid relief appearance in the eighth inning, allowing only one hit, a double to Francisco Cervelli. Edwards hasn’t given up more than one run in an outing since August 13th against St. Louis. Since then, he has a 1.76 ERA in 5 1/3 innings of relief work.

The Cubs have now won 11 of the 14 meetings with Pittsburgh.

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