Living well is the best revenge — George Herbert
That quote’s from a 17th-Century English poet, but 21st-Century Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo took it to heart Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Rizzo went 2-for-3 with two walks and a game-tying home run that helped trigger a three-run rally that sent the Cubs on to an 8-6 win over the Pirates.
Rizzo wasn’t plunked in the first inning but Willson Contreras was. The silly business was matched by Jon Lester a bit later, when he hit Pirates pitcher Nick Kingham. In the midst of all that, Lester was getting hit hard by Pirates hitters. Ian Happ misjudged a fly ball in the first inning, and whether or not that was the cause of Lester’s troubles, he wound up allowing a pair of runs in that inning and then got touched for a solo homer by Elias Diaz (perhaps a bit of revenge for him, too) in the second, for a 3-0 Pirates lead.
Lester then helped himself with a one-out single in the fifth, and then it was Ben Zobrist’s turn [VIDEO].
Zobrist’s two-run homer brought the Cubs to within one at 3-2, but Lester gave that one right back in the bottom of the inning, a solo shot by rookie Austin Meadows. Meadows was the Pirates’ No. 1 pick in 2013 (ninth overall, seven picks after Kris Bryant) and he’s hit four home runs in his first 11 major-league games.
But then Lester helped himself yet again. Jason Heyward doubled with one out in the sixth and Lester poked a single to right [VIDEO], his second hit of the game, to make it 4-3. That made this the second multi-hit game of Lester’s career:
Jon Lester: 2nd career multi-hit game. The other was 8/1/2017#Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 30, 2018
Lester completed the sixth inning having allowed four runs, which on its face doesn’t seem like that great an outing. But the Pirates were hitting a lot of first pitches into play, and so Jon threw only 90 pitches. He struck out six and didn’t walk anyone, and so I think this was a successful start.
It was made so by the Cubs’ rally in the bottom of the sixth, begun by Rizzo [VIDEO].
A Cubs fan made a nice catch of Rizzo’s blast, right near the yellow home-run line. It was called a homer on the field, but Clint Hurdle asked for a review. The angles shown appeared inconclusive, so it remained a home run and a 4-4 tie.
Contreras followed with a single and Ian Happ hit a ball off the left-center field wall for an RBI double to make it 5-4, and then Heyward singled him in for a two-run lead.
Let’s pause right here to salute Jason Heyward for his three-hit game, all the hits well struck. Since May 25, Heyward is 7-for-24 (.292) with a double, two triples and five RBI. He’ll be just fine.
The Cubs extended the lead to 8-4 in the eighth. Zobrist led off with a double and then Kyle Schwarber... well, listen [VIDEO].
Schwarber’s ball clanged off the right-field foul pole for a two-run homer, and check out the launch angle:
Barrel: Kyle Schwarber (13) [CHC] off Michael Feliz [PIT]: 107.3 mph, 19 degrees (Home Run - 367 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) May 30, 2018
19 degrees? That’s usually a line drive right at a fielder, but that ball got out of the park so quickly thanks to the strength of Schwarber. Also:
Kyle Schwarber has 38 Home Runs over his last 162 games #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 30, 2018
Then Michael Feliz seemed to lose focus; he walked Rizzo and hit Contreras a second time, but the Cubs couldn’t score any further runs. Hopefully that’s the end of any headhunting. Pirates fans, the few that were in the park (just 11,475 paid), booed Rizzo; that’s a perfectly acceptable reaction by an opponent’s fans, but I don’t like pitchers deliberately throwing at hitters.
The ninth inning wasn’t as pretty as it should have been; Brian Duensing gave up a couple of hits, which brought Brandon Morrow into the game. Morrow wasn’t his sharpest, either, allowing a pair of singles, one of which loaded the bases and the other scored a pair of runs to make it 8-6 (the runs charged to Duensing). But Morrow then struck out Josh Bell and got pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson to pop up to end it and post his 12th save.
Walk watch: I’m going to do this again as an occasional feature, because the four walks the Cubs drew in this one gave them 202 for the year, or 3.96 per game. That’s a pace for 642, which would be third-best in franchise history (656 in 2016 is the club record).
The Cubs picked up a game on the Brewers, who lost to the Cardinals Tuesday night. (That’s about the best we could have hoped for in that series, not a sweep.) That puts the Cubs 3½ games behind the Brewers and just one down in the loss column. Tuesday’s Cubs win also brings the Cubs to a season-high seven games over .500.
They’ll go for the sweep Wednesday night (weather permitting) with Kyle Hendricks on the mound. Joe Musgrove will start for the Pirates. Game time is 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage Wednesday is via NBC Sports Chicago.