Rookie James Marvel got hit early and often and reliever Clay Holmes, well he just hit the Cubs often as the Pirates suffered their second straight embarrassing defeat in Wrigley Field.
The Cubs struck for yet another big inning in the second when Ben Zobrist and Nico Hoerner both singled, and after being bunted up by pitcher Kyle Hendricks, Marvel hit Anthony Rizzo with a pitch, Rizzo’s 27th of the year, to load the bases with two outs. Nicholas Castellanos then cleared the bases on a double lined to left field, and he came home on Kris Bryant’s single to right to make the score 4-0.
The Cubs then broke out the long ball, as Ben Zobrist smacked a solo homer in the third and in the fourth Castellanos doubled again, his 52nd, followed by Bryant’s 29th roundtripper.
Marvel’s day was done after four innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits.
Wei-Chung Wang, one of the six waiver or DFA pickups in the Pirates’ bullpen, came on for the fifth. After retiring the first batter Wang walked Zobrist then gave up a pair of singles to load the bases. He managed to strike out Kyle Hendricks on a bunted foul with two strikes, as the Cubs’ pitcher attempted to lay down a sacrifice with the bases loaded, but Rizzo followed with a hard line single to right to drive in a pair and chase Wang from the game.
Clay Holmes was called in and his second pitch hit Castellanos to load the bases and the very next pitch hit Bryant to force in a run. Holmes managed to escape the inning when Rizzo was caught at home, trying to score from third on what would have been a wild pitch.
Things got ugly again for Holmes in the sixth, when after retiring the first two batters he let loose a curve that caught David Bote in the shoulder. Bote was restrained after holding up two fingers and yelling out to the mound “That’s two!”, apparently in reference to Holmes having previously hit him back in July, not to the three that the Pirates’ right-hander had plunked in a span of five batters.
Cub’s reliever Dillon Maples along with his manager Joe Maddon were ejected when with one out in the top of the ninth Maples hit both Elias Diaz and Erik Gonzalez in succession.
Pirates’ shortstop Kevin Newman rapped three hits, including a double and a triple, to raise his batting average to .318, eighth best in the major leagues.
The victory leaves the Cubs 3 1⁄2 games back of the Cardinals for the division lead, but in possession of the second Wild Card in the National League, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Brewers.
The Pirates and Cubs will conclude their three games series on Sunday afternoon at 2:20 p.m. Eastern when Trevor Williams (7-6, 5.21) is set to face Cubs’ left-hander Jose Quintana (13-8, 4.15)