Javier Baez homered twice for the second game in a row and the Cubs blasted the Pirates’ struggling bullpen in a 13-5 Chicago win.
The Pirates jumped on Jon Lester early, as Sean Rodriguez ripped a three-run HR to left in the second, his first HR of the year. Rodriguez had two previous longballs off Lester, so sometimes maybe those little matchup samples mean something.
The lead didn’t survive long as Steven Brault ran into trouble quickly in the bottom half of the inning. It all started with a bunt single, then concluded with yet another Javier Baez HR, this one with two on to put the Cubs up 4-3.
The Pirates eventually tied it in the fifth when Starling Marte doubled and Francisco Cervelli singled him in. Five innings was as far as Lester got, as the Pirates made him throw 96 pitches over that span.
Brault also came out after five, having thrown 94 pitches himself, but at least he kept the Cubs off the board over his last three innings. He even got two hits off Lester.
The game came apart, though, with Tyler Glasnow on for the sixth. As often seems to be the case, Glasnow didn’t look bad at all. He started off by fanning Baez, but Baez continued to be a nuisance by reaching on a wild pitch. A ground out and a steal put him on third. The next hitter chopped one to a drawn-in Josh Harrison, but Harrison threw wildly to the plate to let the go-ahead run score. A single and double followed, making it 6-4 with runners on second and third. Glasnow had a chance to pitch out of it after fanning Willson Contreras but Ben Zobrist ended his outing with a single that made it 8-4.
The game officially became a rout in the seventh against Josh Smoker, who looks even less ready for the majors than Dovydas Neverauskas. Smoker gave up four runs, two on a HR by Ian Happ.
The final runs came in the eighth on solo HRs by David Freese, his second HR of the year, and Baez. The latter’s HR, naturally, came off Neverauskas.
The teams will play the rubber match tomorrow at 2:20pm ET.