The Cubs got homers from Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward and a solid pitching performance from Jake Arrieta to even their record at 1-1.
The Pirates not only lost the game, but also lost the services of highly regarded rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who left the game in the top of the third with left wrist discomfort after jamming his left hand while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt in the first inning.
Hayes appeared to be bothered by the same hand after fouling off a pitch from Arrieta in the first inning.
No further news was available as of early Saturday evening, but the Pirates can ill-afford to lose what might be their best all-around player two games into the season.
Pirates starter Tyler Anderson didn’t have a bad day. He surrendered three runs on five hits in five innings and – based on the radio call by Joe Block and John Wehner – was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Chris Guccione.
The Pirates bullpen, which was lights out in Thursday’s season-opening win, looked merely mortal Saturday. Clay Holmes gave up Bryant’s home run in the sixth, which extended the Cubs’ lead to 4-1, and Wil Crowe, in his first appearance as a Pirate, labored during his stint in the seventh, during which he recorded two outs, gave up a run, a hit and two walks while striking out two.
Rookie Luis Oviedo, acquired from the Mets after they made him a Rule 5 selection, made his debut with the Bucs in the eighth and retired the side in order.
The game got off to a promising start as Hayes drew a one-out walk in the first, moved to second on Colin Moran’s base hit and scored on Kevin Newman’s single to center.
But the Cubs erased that lead in the second when Javier Baez singled, stole second and third and came home on Jake Marisnick’s base hit. Marisnick eventually scored on David Bote’s sacrifice fly.
Bryant’s solo homer in the third made it 3-1, and the Pirates never got closer.
Arrieta scattered six hits and a walk in his six innings of work and struck out five. Closer Craig Kimbrel looked sharp in the ninth, and that does not bode well for the Bucs, who must face the Cubs 17 more times this season.
No Pirate managed more than one hit and the Bucs as a group walked just once after drawing 11 free passes in Thursday’s opener.
The two teams will meet again at 2:20 p.m. Sunday in the series finale at Wrigley Field. Mitch Keller is scheduled to start for the Pirates, with Zach Davies getting the nod for the Cubs.