Zobrist, Rizzo homer as Cubs top Pirates 6-2 for sweep
PITTSBURGH (AP) Ben Zobrist hit a three-run home run, Anthony Rizzo also connected and Jon Lester worked out of a pair of jams to lead the Chicago Cubs over the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
Zobrist's third-inning homer put Chicago ahead after center fielder Andrew McCutchen dropped Rizzo's two-out liner for an error.
With its seventh win in eight games, Chicago improved to a major league-best 20-6. The Cubs has won seven straight road games and completed their first sweep in Pittsburgh since Sept. 7-9, 2012. They lead second-place Pittsburgh by six games in the NL Central.
Lester (3-1) scattered eight hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings, struck out five and walked two. The left-hander has allowed one run or none in five of six starts this season.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases in the fourth and put runners on first and second in the fifth - both times with no outs. The Pirates have lost four straight following a six-game winning streak.
Rizzo doubled and scored on Javier Baez's fifth-inning double and hit his ninth home run of the season in the seventh. He had three hits, scored three times and finished the series with five doubles and the home run.
Baez also had three of the Cubs' 12 hits and drove in the game's final run with an RBI forceout in the ninth. Addison Russell added two hits and Kris Bryant extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce had a two-run homer in the seventh against Adam Warren. Three of his four home runs have come as a pinch hitter.
Juan Nicasio (3-3) had won his first three home starts after being signed as a free agent, allowed four runs - one earned - eight hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings.
Pittsburgh got two hits each from McCutchen, David Freese and Josh Harrison. McCutchen had gone 2 for 19 in his previous five games.
Rizzo is hitting .362 (17 for 47) with 16 RBIs in his last 12 games after hitting .163 in his first 14. He also is batting .442 (23 for 52) in his last 13 regular-season games at Pittsburgh with nine doubles and nine RBIs.
Cubs: RF Jason Heyward (sore right wrist) did not start for a third straight game and is listed as day to day.
Pirates: C Elias Diaz underwent surgery Tuesday to debride his right elbow, and the rookie is expected ot be out until mid-July.
Cubs: Chicago opens a four-game series Thursday night against Washington with RHP Kyle Hendricks (1-2, 3.52 ERA) pitching on eight days' rest against RHP Joe Ross (3-0, 0.79).
Pirates: Pittsburgh starts a three-game series Friday night at St. Louis with LHP Francisco Liriano (2-1, 3.86) facing RHP Carlos Martinez (4-1, 2.60). Liriano is 6-2 against the Cardinals in 13 starts.