CHICAGO -- So much for the Cubs' losing streak. Both Addison Russell and David Ross hit a three-run homer while Kris Bryant added a two-run shot to power the Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the Pirates on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, snapping their skid at two games. Chicago
CHICAGO -- So much for the Cubs' losing streak. Both Addison Russell and David Ross hit a three-run homer while Kris Bryant added a two-run shot to power the Cubs to a 9-4 victory over the Pirates on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field, snapping their skid at two games. Chicago is now 4-0 against Pittsburgh this season, and 14-2 against the National League Central.
"It seems like they've given a lot of people trouble, besides us," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "They're a good team. When we get our opportunities, our chances, we've got to come through."
At 26-8, the Cubs are off to their best start since the team posted that same record in 1907. They had not lost two in a row until Wednesday, when the Padres swept a doubleheader at Wrigley.
"We got off to a good start, that's all we're trying to do," Chicago's Jason Hammel said. "We're well ahead of where we wanted to be. We'll take it. We're playing well and it's a long ride. We have a lot of games to go. The only number we're looking at is the win column. We'll go from there."
Hammel scattered eight hits over 6 2/3 innings to remain unbeaten at 5-0 and lower his ERA to 1.77, while Francisco Liriano took the loss, his second this season, serving up all three Cubs home runs among his eight runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kid stuff:Ben Zobrist singled and Jorge Soler walked to open the fourth and set up Russell's home run, his third. The Cubs' shortstop is now 10-for-25 with 11 RBIs in six games on the homestand. In the fifth, Jason Heyward singled to lead off and Bryant followed with his sixth home run, which made it 5-0. Russell and Bryant are two of four Cubs who have at least 24 RBIs.
"It looked like it was going to be 0-0 the whole day even though the wind was blowing out," Cubs manager Maddon said. "That [home run by Russell] got us going in the right direction."
Haunting homers: Liriano came into this game having surrendered only six earned runs in five starts with the Pirates at Wrigley Field. He gave up six runs and then some Friday, with the three homers accounting for all the damage. Liriano left after 4 2/3 innings, charged with eight runs and nine hits. He also struck out seven and walked four. This was only the Bucs' third loss in his past 24 starts and the first time he has given up three homers since July 23, 2012.
"You can't make that many mistakes at this level," Liriano said. "Not a lot to say. Just didn't execute my pitches."
Grandpa Rossy: Ross has made it known this is his last season, and the 39-year-old catcher is playing as if he's tapped into a fountain of youth. His home run Friday was No. 3 this season and No. 99 of his career. On Ross' bucket list of things to do is reach 100 home runs. He also has 12 RBIs in 18 games; he totaled nine RBIs last season.
"It's nice to have a little fun today after the panic set in when we lost two in a row," Ross said. "It's a lot of fun to be a part of this group." More >
Cutch stays hot: Andrew McCutchen continued his recent tear with three hits, including a two-run ninth-inning home run. After a slow start, the five-time All-Star outfielder is up to eight homers this season and has a season-high seven-game hit streak. McCutchen didn't offer any specific reason for his recent surge, but there's no doubt he's playing like himself.
"It's baseball," McCutchen said. "I'm going to keep saying that all year. It's whatever it is in May. I'm just going to keep going out there and keep doing what I'm doing, and I'll assess all that at the end." More >
"It's the Pirates-Cubs rivalry. It's been around for a long time. … Any time you get enemy colors from the same division, it'll be a heated game and a well-played one, too." -- Hammel
"You hit a couple balls in the air and it goes out because it's Wrigley Field and it's windy. They're able to do that, and they were able to get some balls out. I don't think one ball would have went out today if we were at PNC Park. … It's the game. It's baseball. It happens, and hey, they played the elements well today."
-- McCutchen, on the game's home runs
Pirates: Left-hander Jeff Locke will start for the Pirates in the second of this three-game series on Saturday at 2:20 p.m. ET. Locke is 1-2 with a 5.83 ERA in nine career starts against the Cubs.
Cubs: The North Siders have won each of Jake Arrieta's past 20 starts, a franchise record, and they will go for No. 21 on Saturday in the second game of this series. Arrieta is 7-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 10 career starts against the Pirates, and 4-1 with a 0.63 ERA in six regular-season starts over the past two seasons. First pitch will be 1:20 CT at Wrigley Field.
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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago who covered the Pirates on Friday.