The Pirates chased former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta with three runs in the sixth inning en route to a 4-2 victory at Wrigley Field Saturday night. Ivan Nova struck out six and allowed only four base runners in 6 2⁄3 innings, although two of those were homeruns.
Trailing 2-1, Josh Bell led off the sixth with his second double of the game, a line drive to right-center that stuck in the ivy. After David Freese tapped out to third, Gregory Polanco took a high and away 1-1 pitch, Arrieta’s 99th of the game, and drilled it into the left-center bleachers for his 8th homer of the season. With the Pirates then up 3-2, Francisco Cervelli lined a single to right-center and the next batter Jordy Mercer lined a ball into left-center that split the outfielders and headed to the wall. With the weak hitting pitcher Nova on deck, third-base coach Joey Cora waved home the huffing and puffing Cervelli, who would have been out on shortstop Javy Baez’s relay throw - if it hadn’t sailed well over the head of the catcher.
The Pirates had originally taken a 1-0 lead in the 4th when Bell also led off with a double. Freese walked and a passed ball put runners at second and third with no one out. The runners held when Polanco popped out to left, but Bell scampered home on Cervelli’s ground out to third.
In the bottom of that 4th. Nova retired Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo on only four pitches, then after starting with a 1-1 count on Ian Happ threw a pair of pitches more than four inches inside the strike zone - but both were called balls instead of strikes two and three. Happ put the next pitch into the left field seats to tie the game, and two pitchers later Kyle Schwarber bombed one into centerfield to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. It was the 13th homer of the season for both.
Nova pitched into the seventh but with one out walked Schwarber on four pitches (with ball four again well in the strike zone). After Willson Contreras grounded out, Tony Watson came in to retire Jason Heyward on one pitch to end the inning.
Juan Nicasio started the eighth and after striking out Javy Baez, pinch-hitter Tommy LaStella doubled on a pop-fly down the left field line that was nearly grabbed by a diving Freese. After Ben Zobrist grounded out to put a runner at third with two gone. Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle signaled for Felipe Rivero. In what appeared to be a planned maneuver, Rivero pitched around Bryant, walking him on four pitches, but Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs’ homerun leader who represented the lead run, smacked a 102 mph fastball right at shortstop Mercer for the third out.
After that drama, Rivero set down the Cubs quietly in the 9th for the save.
Josh Bell had three of the Pirates’ seven hits, as Andrew McCutchen only went 1-for-4, leaving him at 295/380/522.