The 1934 season had a very tight pennant race. It wasn't until 52 games into the season -- June 13 -- that the Cubs were more than two games ahead or two games behind. A 2-6 run put them 6&frac; games behind the first-place Giants, but then the Cubs went on an eight-game winning streak (that took nine games; there was an 8-8 tie with the Pirates in the middle), putting them again just one game behind as June ended.
The last of those wins was 6-4 over the Pirates in Pittsburgh on what was a festive day at Forbes Field:
Just to show they appreciated being in on the silver anniversary celebration of the opening of Forbes field, home of the Pirates, the Cubs flattened the latter today in the second of the three game series. The score of a somewhat dull struggle was 6 to 4, thereby adding another link to the Chicagoans' chain of successive victories, now totaling eight. Thanks for the happy conclusion from a Cub standpoint can be given to Pie Traynor, the new Pirate boss, who let himself fall for the popular notion that his guests for the day are suckers for left handed pitching. There are times when the Cubs look that way against the wrong armed workers, but this wasn't one of those days. They began operating on Ralph Birkofer in the first inning and climaxed their day's progress with a four run blast that removed the southpaw in the fourth. After that they did nothing against three right handers, but no more runs were needed. All the Cub pitching was taken care of by Bill Lee, the big American association graduate, who thereby recorded his fifth major league victory as well as his first on foreign soil and third in a row. Lee didn't confine himself to pitching and in that way furnished what proved to be the turning point of the battle. He doubled with the bases filled in the fourth inning and this was the potent item in the four runs that sent the bulky Birkofer on his unhappy way.
Big Bill Lee (no relation to Bill "Spaceman" Lee, who pitched for the Red Sox and others in the 1970s and 1980s) would become a key contributor to the Cubs' pennant seasons in 1935 and 1938; had there been a Cy Young Award in that era, he likely would have won it both times. He finished second in N.L. MVP voting in 1938.
In '34, though, that was about the peak of the Cubs' contention. They managed to hang within two games or so of first place until early August, but a September fade again placed them third, eight games behind the pennant-winning Cardinals.