After shutting down the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, the Chicago Cubs kept on rolling. They received a solid outing from right-hander Jason Hammel and a home run from Kris Bryant.
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What a run it has been for the Chicago Cubs this season and it keeps on getting better for the first-place club. Following his short outing against the Dodgers, right-hander Jason Hammel returned with a strong outing.
Hammel (14-7, 3.14 ERA) was marvelous on the mound for the Cubs (86-47). He held Pittsburgh to one earned run on three hits. Aside from silencing this Pirates offense, he issued three walks and struck out six batters in six frames.
After cruising through the top of the first inning, slugger Kris Bryant, at the time, jumped ahead of Nolan Arenado with his 36th home run. It was a solo home run that was smashed out to deep left field, giving the Cubs an early 1-0 lead.
And while Bryant continued to make a case for N.L. MVP honors, Addison Russell was right behind him. Russell drove in a run during the home half of the fourth inning — his 85th RBI of the year. In addition to this stat, he later picked up his 86th RBI on a sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Also, he made a fantastic diving play in left field, saving what could have been a bases-loaded clearing double. The play occurred when Gregory Polanco lifted a pitch out to left field, resulting in Russell making a sliding grab.
Thankfully, Addison managed to make the play before Pittsburgh (67-64) could swing momentum in their favor in the late innings. Chicago scored three more runs prior to Russell’s gem in the home half of the sixth inning.
Outfielder Jason Heyward lined a pitch out to center field, scoring Jorge Soler to make it a 3-1 ballgame. Rookie catcher Willson Contreras kept the line moving with his 10th career double out to left field to plate Heyward.
Yet while it looked as if the Cubs were going to route Pittsburgh, the Pirates had other plans in store for them. Pittsburgh stormed back with one run in the seventh and another two in the eighth with Travis Wood on the mound.
Wood surrendered two earned runs on as many hits in only 1/3 of an inning. Thankfully, Felix Pena closed the eighth without allowing the Pirates to close the gap any further.
Hard-throwing southpaw Aroldis Chapman entered the ninth and picked up his 12th save as a member of the Cubs. But without several wild pitches and giving up a run.