This afternoon at the Friendly Confines, the Cubs were going for their first chance at a series victory and sweep since they swept the Cardinals on June 9th. Coming into this game, the offense was looking lively after putting up a ten spot in their previous game, along with Jose Quintana coming off a victory in his last start against the Pirates before the All-Star break.
The day started off nicely for the Cubs with Quintana getting through the first two innings unscathed while Robel Garcia was able to drive in his fourth RBI in only 18 at-bats this season. In the Pirates half of the third inning, Q gave up three straight singles which plated a run for the visitors, tying the game. He continued to struggle through the inning, giving up two more runs. One came on a Starling Marte sacrifice fly and the other on a Jung Ho Kang double to left field. Quintana was able to settle down, and Cubs pitching gave up nothing more.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Cubs began to chip away at the lead thanks to a single by Quintana that scored Garcia. Caratini was able to tie the game up in the fifth with a sacrifice fly that Kris Bryant tagged up on and scored from third. This score did not last long thanks to Jason Heyward‘s 15th blast of the season that put the Cubbies up 5-3.
The offense continued to shine in the sixth inning when Albert Almora hit a pinch-hit homer to left followed by a Schwarber bomb to right field on the very next pitch. To finish off the scoring in the sixth, Anthony Rizzo hit a sac fly that Javier Baez was able to tag up on and score with ease.
Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Ryan, and Tyler Chatwood were all able to keep the Pirates offense off the board, pitching an inning each to lock down the game and keep the Cubs in the win column ever since coming back from the All-Star break. Quintana was able to collect another win, bringing his record back to .500 and giving himself and the Cubs a positive first step into the second half.
With the Brewers losing today, the Cubs have increased their slim division lead to 2.5 games. With the last place Reds coming into town and Milwaukee heading to “Hotlanta” to face the Braves who have won three in a row, the Cubs can take advantage of this week to give themselves some cushion in their lead. Kyle Hendricks will look to keep Cincinnati’s offense quiet Monday night at Wrigley in his second start since returning from the IL.
Featured Photo: AP Photo/David Banks