Jon Lester threw six shutout innings, and Kyle Schwarber had a pair of hits and a pair of RBI’s as the Chicago Cubs took a step toward clinching a playoff berth with a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.
The Cubs, who entered the day with a magic number of four to clinch a playoff berth, saw their magic number in the division drop to just five with the victory, as they snapped a brief two-game losing skid.
Lester threw six innings of shutout baseball, giving up just four hits and no earned runs while striking out a batter in the victory. Kyle Ryan, Jeremy Jeffress and Dan Winkler combined for three shutout innings of relief, with four strikeouts to their credit.
The Cubs got their scoring off to an early start in a unique way, as Javier Baez laid down a perfect bunt single to score Schwarber and to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the second inning is also when Kris Bryant was forced to leave the game, with the team announcing he’s dealing with lower oblique tightness on his right side.
In the fifth inning, Victor Caratini ripped an RBI double to right-center, scoring Jason Kipnis to put the team ahead 2-0. With Cubs’ pitchers continuing to maintain control in the game, their offense came alive again in the eighth, with Schwarber hammering a double of his own into the gap, scoring Willson Contreras and Anthony Rizzo.
David Bote, who came into the game in relief of Bryant, then looped an RBI single to left, scoring Billy Hamilton and giving the Cubs a five-run cushion.
The Cubs will hand the ball to Jose Quintana on Tuesday night, as he’ll look to secure the team’s second straight win. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m., and the game will air on Marquee Sports Network.