The Cubs took advantage of another strong start and a little thunder from the offense em route to another win that ended up being closer than they’d have liked. All of their runs came via the longball, and they needed everything they got after handing it off to the bullpen.
Ian Happ took over at the leadoff spot when Kris Bryant was a late scratch due to gastrointestinal issues, and he made the most of his start with a 3rd inning home run. Javier Báez had a solo shot of his own in the 3rd inning to put the Cubs up 2-0.
Tyler Chatwood pitched six scoreless innings, striking out a career-high 11 with a personal record of 20 whiffs. His pitches baffled the Pittsburgh batters, particularly the cutter he utilized masterfully.
The slim lead was helped by a two-run home run from Kyle Schwarber in the bottom of the 8th, and it’s a good thing for the Cubs he hit it. Colin Moran made it 4-2 with a two-run home run off of reliever Kyle Ryan in the top of the 9th, and a Bryan Reynolds double prompted a pitching change.
Rowan Wick came on to close the game and ended up earning the save despite another run scoring on a groundout. (Box score)
Early runs mattered again for the Cubs, whose bullpen has looked frazzled the last few games. Defensive success in the later innings was crucial to allowing them to hang on to their lead.
Why the Cubs Won
Chatwood’s best self showed up and the bats made quality contact. It was a team effort all the way around, even if it ended up being closer than the game otherwise indicated.
Stats that Matter
- Chatwood was startlingly sharp, striking out 11 over 6.2 innings.
- Happ hit his third home run of the season after a long double to lead off.
- Kyle Schwarber hit two balls at 112 mph or harder. Only one was a hit, and it wasn’t his homer.
The Cubs host the Pirates again Sunday at 1:20pm CT in a battle of the lefties as Steven Brault faces Jon Lester. The game is on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.