After winning their weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs (18-11) got their three-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates (9-20) off to a good start on Monday. The offense knocked three home runs and José Quintana wiggled out of trouble in a 6-1 victory, via MLB The Show 20.
The Cubs got going early against Pirates starter Mitch Keller when, with two outs in the 1st inning, Willson Contreras hit a ball to deep right-center that hit at the base of the wall and took a weird carom away from Jarrod Dyson and Gregory Polanco. The Cubs catcher to slide into third base with a triple and Jason Heyward followed with a sharp single to right field, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
The offense really got going in the third inning, when Kris Bryant hit a leadoff homer against Keller to put the Cubs up 2-0. Anthony Rizzo followed with a double to right field that nearly landed in the basket for another round-tripper. Contreras then flew out to deep center and Heyward struck out, bringing up David Bote with two outs.
Bote, who drove in nine runs in the second game of the year and thus has remained one of the RBI leaders on the team, added to his total with a sharp line drive into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer. The score had barely been changed to 4-0 on the scoreboard when Ian Happ laid into yet another juicy fastball from Keller. Happ’s fourth home run of the year was the Cubs’ of the inning and put them up 5-0.
Meanwhile, Quintana benefited on the mound from some timely defensive plays. The left-hander allowed nine hits and two walks in 7 2/3 innings, but only surrendered one run thanks to several slick plays. Two of those were by Bryant at third base to start double plays and one was by Rizzo at first, saving what would’ve been a bases-clearing three-run double. Heyward also threw out Adam Frazier at home trying to score in the 5th inning.
Keller only lasted 3 1/3 innings, which meant that the Pirates needed an extended appearance from long reliever – and former Cub – Derek Holland. The Cubs got their sixth run of the game against Holland in the bottom of the 5th on a bases-loaded walk to Bryant, which came just after Holland had walked Quintana on four straight balls.
Quintana left with two outs in the 8th and runners on second and third, but Casey Sadler was able to get Jacob Stallings to ground out to Bote to end the threat. Ryan Tepera pitched a scoreless 9th to end the game.
Notes: The Cubs are now 8-2 in their last 10 games. They briefly moved into a tie with the Cincinnati Reds for first place in the NL Central, but the Reds beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 on Monday to take back their 0.5-game lead … Despite the wind blowing in at Wrigley, the Cubs were able to get three balls into the bleachers.
Bryant – 2-for-4, BB, HR, 2 RBI
Bote – 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI
Rizzo – 2-for-5, 2B, R
Quintana – 7 2/3 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 6 K
Moran – 3-for-4, 2B
Bell – 2-for-4
Frazier – 1-for-4, RBI
Winning Pitcher – Quintana (2-2)
Losing Pitcher – Keller (0-2)
Save – none
Home Runs – Bryant (10), Bote (5), Happ (4)