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Cubs 10, Pirates 4: Jon Lester does it all

The Cubs powered their way to seven first-inning runs and blew out the visitors behind Jon Lester’s pitching and bat.

Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Seven runs in the first inning! No team had done that since... last night:

As noted, the Athletics also put up a seven-spot vs. the White Sox in the first inning Saturday, but here we’re concerned with the Cubs, whose seven-run inning helped lead them to a 10-4 win over the Pirates.

After Jon Lester had an easy top of the first, a pair of walks and a single by Anthony Rizzo made it 1-0. Willson Contreras quickly tacked three runs onto that [VIDEO].

Yes, the wind blowing out to right field helped that one. So what? The Cubs will take it. But they weren’t done scoring in the inning. Jason Heyward followed with a double, and after a walk by Addison Russell and the second out of the inning, Lester came through with the bat [VIDEO].

Fun fact time!

Russell scored all the way from first while Lester held with a single to make it 6-0, and after Kyle Schwarber drew his second walk of the inning, Javier Baez completed the Cubs’ seven-run frame [VIDEO].

This game should probably have been more of a cakewalk than it was. I’ll get to that, but here’s a look at the hit that made the score 8-0 in the third [VIDEO].

That was Lester’s third career homer; he’s hit one in each of the last three seasons. I give him a lot of credit for working on his game. When he came to the Cubs he really couldn’t do anything well except pitch baseballs. Since then he has become a decent hitter, one of the best bunters in the league, and can even pick off runners, something he was bad at when he arrived. Kudos to Jon for that, and for his outstanding day both at the plate and on the mound.

And more fun facts after that homer:

You think that’s been a while? Check this out:

It’s 8-0 now and Lester is cruising through the Pirates lineup. The Cubs added two more runs in the fourth. Contreras walked and Heyward doubled after the first two hitters were out and that brought up Russell [VIDEO].

It’s 10-0 now. Lester allowed a solo homer to Jung Ho Kang in the fifth and another one to Starling Marte in the sixth, and with a 10-2 lead and Lester having thrown 84 pitches on a rather humid afternoon, I thought this was the perfect time to get Mike Montgomery some game action. Because if you can’t bring in Montgomery to eat up three innings with an eight-run lead, why is he even on this roster?

Lester came out for the seventh and you could see he was tiring, although some of the hits and plays made in this inning might have wound up another way. Schwarber attempted this diving catch on Jose Osuna’s sinking liner [VIDEO].

The Cubs challenged the call of “base hit,” but if you stop the video at :04 you can see the ball touching the ground. An infield hit and a couple of attempts at force plays wound up with two out and a run scoring, and after another single by Kevin Newman, Lester was finally lifted after 98 pitches. Me, I think I’d have had Montgomery in the game. Or someone else. Brandon Kintzler got the last out of the inning.

Randy Rosario entered for the eighth and served up Marte’s second homer of the game, got out of the inning and then allowed a one-out single in the ninth. If you’re getting the impression that this was about the most difficult time you’ve seen preserving a 10-run lead, you’re probably correct. The last thing Joe wanted to have to do in this game was to warm up Craig Kimbrel. Steve Cishek, who had been warming up in the eighth, was summoned with a runner on first and one out, and ended the game on two pitches on a slick double play turned by Baez, Russell and Rizzo [VIDEO].

It was a fine offensive show by the Cubs, who pounded out 13 hits and had six walks. Jason Heyward had another three-hit game, his third since June 22. J-Hey is, at last, having the season the Cubs hoped he would have every year when they signed him.

So the Cubs had their win, and their first series win since they swept the Cardinals five weekends ago. They lead the Brewers by two games, pending Milwaukee’s night game with the Giants, and have increased their lead over the Pirates to 4½ games.

And again, the complaint department door is closed, except for just a peek inside wondering whether Mike Montgomery is sitting inside, alone with his thoughts. He hasn’t pitched in 11 days.

The Cubs go for the sweep Sunday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana will go for the Cubs and Trevor Williams starts for Pittsburgh. TV coverage Sunday will be via NBC Sports Chicago.