PITTSBURGH -- A night after scoring a season-high 14 runs and pounding out 17 hits, the Cubs were limited to two hits Tuesday at PNC Park. But they only needed one, compounded by a timely mistake by the Pirates, to escape with a 1-0 win over Gerrit Cole and the
PITTSBURGH -- A night after scoring a season-high 14 runs and pounding out 17 hits, the Cubs were limited to two hits Tuesday at PNC Park. But they only needed one, compounded by a timely mistake by the Pirates, to escape with a 1-0 win over Gerrit Cole and the Bucs.
"I told them to save a couple [runs]," Cubs starter and winner Kyle Hendricks said. "Sometimes one is enough."
Shortstop Addison Russell doubled and scored on a throwing error by Pittsburgh second baseman Alen Hanson in the second inning, and that run proved to be just enough to back a pinpoint performance by Hendricks and the Cubs' bullpen. Hendricks held the Bucs to four hits and two walks while striking out three over six sparkling innings, and relievers Koji Uehara, Hector Rondon and Wade Davis finished the job with a scoreless inning apiece.
"That part of the game, Cole was really, really on top of his stuff," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of the second. "That was a nice piece of hitting. [Russell's ball] almost went out. We benefited from an error, it was that close of a game."
Cole turned in what he called his sharpest performance of the year, perhaps one of the best starts of his career. The right-hander pitched seven two-hit innings and struck out eight, and he retired 13 straight Cubs after Hanson's errant throw allowed his lone, unearned run to score.
"He had every pitch working. He was athletic on the mound. There was finish. There was power. There was spin," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was really solid, and that's a really good lineup over there. Nobody likes to lose -- the team, him."
Cole could have worked deeper into the game, as he only threw 78 pitches. But he was removed in the seventh, when John Jaso doubled and advanced to third on Jordy Mercer's flyout. Hanson struck out while David Freese, the team's OPS and RBI leader, was sidelined with a sore right hamstring, then rookie Jose Osuna, batting for Cole, flied out to center field and stranded Jaso. The Bucs hit three deep fly balls in the ninth but couldn't scratch together any support for Cole.
"Guys are putting good swings on the ball," Cole said. "It's just the way this stuff goes sometimes. There's going to be ups and downs throughout the whole year. You can't get frustrated."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Unforced error: Russell doubled to center with one out in the second. Heyward, the next batter, hit a chopper past the mound. Hanson swooped in and scooped up the ball, but his throw to first baseman Josh Bell missed badly. The ball bounced off the Cubs' dugout, and Russell trotted home to score. The rookie's error continued a streak of poor defensive play for the Pirates, who entered the game tied for the Major League lead in errors, with 18, and last in Defensive Runs Saved, with minus-14.
"I believe the play wasn't a difficult play. What went wrong was that I became a little too confident," Hanson said through interpreter Mike Gonzalez. "I noticed the runner wasn't running 100 percent. I relaxed a little bit and tried to make the play. When I noticed he was almost there, I released the ball and threw the ball away."
Sixth-inning separation: How did Hendricks fall from the Major League ERA leader a year ago to a 6.19 mark in his first three outings this season? Start with the lack of separation in velocity between his pitches. That wasn't the case Tuesday night, and it showed in his final inning. Hendricks caught Bell looking at an 84.8-mph sinker away. With Gregory Polanco at second base after a single and a stolen base, Hendricks ended a seven-pitch battle with Francisco Cervelli by getting him to swing and miss at a 77.8-mph changeup. Hendricks said the changeup to Cervelli was his best one in the game.
"It's just one start but definitely a lot better," said Hendricks, who hasn't exactly looked like the same pitcher as last year, when he led the Major Leagues with a 2.13 ERA. "I got away with some pitches early. It almost clicked the second time through the order, like about the end of the third inning. My fastball command got better, I could mix it in and out, up and down a lot better." More >
"I've talked about how you have to win 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 to win championships, so we'll take it." -- Maddon
"That was some kind of baseball game that broke out off the pitcher's mound." -- Hurdle
Cubs:Jonathan Lester will make his fifth start of the season on Wednesday, and is still looking for his first win. The lefty had a 1.00 ERA after his first three starts, then gave up five runs to the Reds in his last outing. He's 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA in nine career starts against the Pirates. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT from PNC Park.
Pirates: Top prospect Tyler Glasnow will make his fourth start of the season as the Bucs wrap up their series with the Cubs at 7:05 p.m. ET at PNC Park. Glasnow is coming off a 4 2/3-inning outing that he described as "survival mode." He struck out seven and gave up six runs (four earned) but showed signs of improvement during a five-inning start against the Cubs on April 15.
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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.
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.