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Cubs 4, Pirates 3: Joc pop

Joc Pederson powered the Cubs to victory.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Tuesday’s Cubs/Pirates game did not start out well for our favorite team, with Jake Arrieta getting touched up for three runs (two earned) over the first two innings.

But Jake settled down, the Cubs bullpen did its usual outstanding job, Joc Pederson homered twice and the Cubs had their second straight one-run win, 4-3 over the Pirates.

The Cubs were down 3-0 in the top of the third when Joc cut that deficit to two runs [VIDEO].

Arrieta, who had been shaky over the first two innings, started mowing down Pirates and then the Cubs put together a three-run fifth. Jake batted for himself and singled with one out.

Joc was the next batter, and he tied the game with another long ball [VIDEO].

Watch that video carefully — look where that pitch was, low and out of the zone, golfed out of the ballpark:

Pederson also later doubled, compiling 10 total bases on the evening. He’s just the second Cub to do that this year (also Kris Bryant, May 2 vs. the Reds). In 17 games this month, Joc is hitting .369/.411/.585 (24-for-65) with three doubles, a triple and three home runs.

The Cubs weren’t done in that inning. One out after Pederson’s homer, Javier Baez doubled and Anthony Rizzo brought him in [VIDEO].

One inning later, Nico Hoerner attempted to bunt for a hit [VIDEO].

It looked like Nico landed on first base awkwardly, then made another bad step. Immediately, he grabbed his left leg as he fell to the ground. He did walk off under his own power, slowly, but you could tell there was a likely hamstring injury, and:

There’s no obvious 40-man roster move to make, unless one of the players currently on the 10-day injured list is moved to the 60-day injured list. This is a tough one for Nico and the team; the Cubs started to play better this year after Hoerner was recalled and both his hitting and defense have been outstanding. Hopefully he’s not out too long.

After that unfortunate incident, the Cubs bullpen stepped up and had yet another outstanding game. Keegan Thompson, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel (10th save) combined for four shutout innings. They allowed two hits and two walks and struck out eight. Can’t praise the bullpen enough, they have just been amazing collectively.

Kimbrel did get into a bit of trouble when he allowed a leadoff double to Cole Tucker, but he calmly retired the next three hitters. Here’s the final out, a routine grounder to Javy [VIDEO].

The win is tempered by the injury to Nico, but the Cubs are not the only team that’s suffered multiple injuries this season. It might have something to do with trying to ramp up from a 60-game season last year to a full 162 games in 2021. Hopefully Nico (and other injured Cubs) return soon.

Note on Kimbrel’s save, his 25th as a Cub:

The win, coupled with another White Sox win over the Cardinals, put the Cubs just half a game behind St. Louis entering Wednesday’s action. At 25-22, the Cubs are now at a season-high three games over .500. They are also playing much better on the road — after losing 11 of their first 15 games away from Wrigley Field, they have won five of their last seven road games.

The Cubs will go for two in a row over the Pirates, and three straight overall, Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh (weather permitting). Former Pirate Trevor Williams, who did not pitch well in his first PNC Park outing for the Cubs in April, will try to improve on that with tonight’s start. Wil Crowe is scheduled to go for the Pirates. Game time is again 5:35 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.