Ivan Nova returned from the disabled list with a flash while Josh Harrison’s lead off homer in the first was all the runs the Pirates needed en route to a 7-1 win over the hometown Cubs, salvaging one win in the best of three series.
Nova was never in distress as he struck out eight while scattering four hits and a pair of walks over 5 2⁄3 innings. Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick and Felipe Vazquez followed, retiring all ten batters faced by the bullpen.
Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks only allowed three hits and two walks, but always seemed to be in trouble as he threw only 51 of 87 (59%) of his pitches over five innings for strikes, and didn’t retire the side on order until his final frame.
The Bucs held on top the slim 1-0 lead until the sixth when they exploded for five more runs. Austin Meadows greeted the left-handed reliever Brian Duensing with a 107 mph double lined to right. After Corey Dickerson’s grounder to second sent Meadows to third Colin Moran walked and then Elias Diaz looped a single into right to score Meadows. Josh Bell then walked, his third of the game, to load the bases, and Duensing’s afternoon was done. Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon called on right-hander Luke Farrell to face Gregory Polanco, and he responded by ripping a 1-2 pitch into the right field corner for a bases clearing triple, making it 5-0 Pirates. Jordy Mercer’s single to left center then scored Polanco to round out the inning.
The Cubs scored their only run of the game, and their first in fourteen innings, in the sixth when Jason Heyward led off with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and then home on a grounder to shirt. After Nova walked Ian Happ with two outs, Santana came on in relief and Chicago never put another runner on base.
The Pirates remain in fourth place with a record of 32-33, 7.0 games behind the Brewers who lost to Philadelphia and 5.0 games out of a Wild Card spot.
The team now heads west to Phoenix, where they will play the Diamondbacks Monday night at 9:40 pm Eastern as Joe Musgrove (2-1, 1.89 faces To Be Determined.