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Pirates answer the bell with 10-run inning, rock Cubs, 14-3

Pittsburgh Pirates v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Things were thrown into flux shortly before game time Sunday, as Jameson Taillon was scratched from his start with flu-like symptoms.

In Taillon’s place would go Chad Kuhl. You know, that Chad Kuhl that pitched seven innings three days ago.

So it would figure to be a big bullpen game. You know, the Pirates bullpen, the one no one can trust.

For the first time in what felt like a very long time, things broke for the Pirates, and they broke in a big way as the Bucs exploded for 10 first-inning runs off of Jon Lester, chasing him after two-thirds of an inning, and cruised to a 14-3 victory over the Cubs in Wrigley Field.

The Pirates looked to have their first run when Andrew McCutchen drove a fly ball down the left-field line, but the original fair-ball call was overturned, and Cutch ended up taking a walk. A Kris Bryant error loaded the bases. A single by Josh Bell scored one, then a Jose Osuna double and Jordy Mercer single scored two apiece for a 5-0 Pirates lead one out into the game.

Walks by Max Moroff and Josh Harrison around a Kuhl sacrifice bunt — his first appearance of the game — loaded the bases. Francisco Cervelli lined one into the basket over the left-field wall for a grand slam and a 9-0 lead. McCutchen then belted one to left-center for a solo homer and a 10-0 lead, and Lester was done. His line: 2-3 innings pitched, six hits, 10 runs, four earned runs, three walks, no strikeouts. The Pirates managed seven hits and four walks in the first inning overall.

An aside: I love Joe Block’s delivery and mean no offense by this: Has he been anywhere near this intense in 1 1/2 years on the Pirates broadcast? You know it’s wild when that’s happening.

Once Kuhl finally took the mound, something else pretty unexpected started to unfold: the cast of Kuhl, Wade LeBlanc, A.J. Schugel and Jhan Marinez combined to hold the Cubs to three runs, on a summer afternoon at Wrigley, no less.

Kuhl went three innings (58 pitches), and allowed a run on two hits. LeBlanc went one inning, Schugel went three in his Major League debut for the season, and Marinez pitched two. The Cubs eventually subbed out Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but this deserves proper appreciation, too.

Up against the All-Star break, the Cubs ended up using three starters — Lester, Mike Montgomery, who relieved him, and Friday’s starter Eddie Butler, along with three innings from Dylan Floro.

Harrison added a solo homer in the ninth and finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two batted in before heading to Miami for the All-Star Game. Cervelli collected five RBIs. Mercer added a double and had three runs and three RBIs.

The Pirates took two of three from the Cubs on the weekend. They head into the break at the dreaded five below .500 mark (42-47), 1 1/2 games behind the Cubs and Cardinals and seven back of the first-place Brewers.