Bryant gets 3 hits in leadoff spot as Cubs beat Pirates 3-1
CHICAGO (AP) — Kris Bryant had three hits and scored a run while batting leadoff for the first time in his career, Ian Happ made a spectacular diving catch near the left-field corner to end the game and the surging Chicago Cubs beat the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates 3-1 on Friday.
Bryant seemed comfortable at the top of the order after manager Joe Maddon decided to put his superstar in a “different seat for the day” because he hasn’t been driving the ball with his usual force. He singled in his first three at-bats and scored in a two-run first inning, helping the Cubs win for the 10th time in 12 games.
Ian Happ sprawled out to grab Josh Harrison’s drive toward the corner against Pedro Strop with a runner on third and two out in the ninth. He also possibly saved a run in the third when he made a tumbling catch on Corey Dickerson’s shallow fly with runners on first and second. Happ made another neat grab in the sixth when he raced back and lunged to snag Colin Moran’s smash.
Mike Montgomery (2-1) went six innings, giving up one run and seven hits, in his third start with Yu Darvish on the disabled list because of right triceps tendinitis.
Ben Zobrist drove in two runs. Jason Heyward had two hits and a run, and Pedro Strop got the final four outs for his first save in two chances. He gave up a leadoff single to Colin Moran and threw a wild pitch to Jordy Mercer before retiring the last three batters.
The Pirates lost for the 10th time in 13 games, with Chad Kuhl (4-4) once again coming up short. The left-hander gave up three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings, and is 0-2 in his past six outings. Both losses were to the Cubs, making him 1-6 in nine career starts against Chicago.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (sprained right ring finger) appears close to a return from the 10-day DL. Manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates are “laying out a next step for him” after Thursday’s bullpen session went well. ... The Pirates placed RHP Richard Rodriquez (right shoulder inflammation) on the 10-day DL and recalled RHP Dovydas Neverauskas from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Cubs: SS Addison Russell (bruised left middle finger) was out of the lineup for the fourth straight game, though he entered as part of a double switch with two out in the eighth. ... LHP Drew Smyly can “see the light at the end of the tunnel” after a 25-pitch batting practice session on Friday. “Today was a big step for me,” he said. Smyly hasn’t pitched since 2016 with Tampa Bay and had Tommy John surgery as a member of the Seattle Mariners last July. He also threw BP at the team’s facility in Arizona this week, and he expects to get in a few more sessions as well as some simulated games before going on a possible rehab stint early next month.
Pirates: RHP Nick Kingham (2-2, 4.03 ERA) looks to bounce back from a loss at St. Louis in which the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha took a no-hitter into the ninth.
Cubs: LHP Jon Lester (6-2, 2.44) is 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA in his past five starts after going seven scoreless innings at the New York Mets on Sunday.
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