Pirates leave 10 runners on base in 4-1 loss to Cubs
CHICAGO (AP) — Not even Gerrit Cole can beat the Chicago Cubs right now.
Cole pitched six solid innings, but the Pittsburgh Pirates left 10 runners on base in a 4-1 loss to Jon Lester and the Cubs on Saturday.
“There’s not many guys in that lineup that didn’t get a shot at driving in a run,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Sean Rodriguez homered for Pittsburgh, which has dropped four in a row. Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang had three hits apiece, and Josh Harrison went 2 for 5.
The Pirates committed three errors and went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position.
“We’re definitely not playing our best baseball right now,” second baseman Neil Walker said.
Kris Bryant went 2 for 2 with two walks and scored twice as the Cubs earned their sixth consecutive win to move six games over .500 for the first time since they were 83-77 on Oct. 3, 2009, according to STATS.
Lester (4-2) allowed one run and nine hits over seven innings in his fourth consecutive win. The left-hander struck out seven, running his career total to 1,504 Ks, and walked one.
“I was fortunate to get some quick outs, especially early in the game,” Lester said, “and then kind of from there, just trying to maintain, trying to keep our guys in the dugout as best we could, get out of that warm air and you know get these guys up to bat against Cole.”
Cole (5-2) allowed two runs and seven hits, struck out eight and walked one. He began the day with a 6-0 record and a 2.92 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs.
“They were fouling pitches off and I wasn’t executing with two strikes,” Cole said.
The Pirates put two runners on with one out in the fourth and fifth innings, but Lester escaped each time. He also retired three in a row after Marte’s leadoff double in the sixth.
Second baseman Addison Russell robbed Walker with a terrific leaping grab for a big out in the fifth. Russell’s play in shallow center with runners on first and second prompted Lester to clap into his glove in appreciation.
With two on, two outs and Chicago clinging to a 2-1 lead in the seventh, Lester was visited by manager Joe Maddon and a trainer with an 0-2 count on Andrew McCutchen. He was cramping up, mainly in his right leg, but he told Maddon he was fine.
Lester then struck out the 2013 NL MVP, leading to a loud ovation from the crowd on a picturesque day and a brief celebration for the pumped-up pitcher as he walked to the dugout.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve and it’s pretty cool to see out of a guy like that,” Bryant said.
Kang’s second-inning single stopped an 0-for-14 slide. Even with that skid, the rookie infielder is batting .352 (19 for 54) with two homers and nine RBIs in his last 17 games. ... Marte has a .324 batting average in 53 career games against the Cubs. ... Rodriguez’s first homer of the season also was against Chicago on April 23.
Pirates: RHP Brandon Cumpton was transferred to the 60-day disabled list when RHP Wilfredo Boscan was promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game. The Pirates also optioned infielder Steve Lombardozzi to their top minor league affiliate. Cumpton had Tommy John surgery in March.
Cubs: LHP Tsuyoshi Wada (mild left groin strain) is at the very end of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa. “We’ve been discussing it,” Maddon said. “I know he’s been doing really well.” Wada could replace Wood in the rotation. ... RHP Neil Ramirez (shoulder inflammation) is throwing bullpen sessions. “Nothing spectacular. Nothing awful,” Maddon said. “Pretty much status quo.”
Pirates RHP A.J. Burnett (2-1, 1.60 ERA) and Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta (4-3, 3.00 ERA) meet in the finale of the weekend series. Burnett has allowed two runs or less in each of his seven starts this year. Arrieta pitched eight innings in a 6-1 victory over the New York Mets in his previous start on Tuesday.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap