CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks struggled with his fastball command on Thursday, Javier Baez didn't slug any more home runs, and the Cubs learned the Pirates aren't going to be pushovers in the National League Central.Gregory Polanco outslugged the Cubs, hitting a pair of solo home runs, and Francisco Cervelli sealed
CHICAGO -- Kyle Hendricks struggled with his fastball command on Thursday, Javier Baez didn't slug any more home runs, and the Cubs learned the Pirates aren't going to be pushovers in the National League Central.
Gregory Polanco outslugged the Cubs, hitting a pair of solo home runs, and Francisco Cervelli sealed the win with a three-run shot to back Trevor Williams and power the Pirates to a 6-1 victory at Wrigley Field.
"We were making good pitches, putting together good [at-bats], but so are they," Hendricks said of the Pirates. "They're really good right now and putting together good quality at-bats. They're a tough team."
Pittsburgh took two out of three games in the series. Williams scattered four hits, including a solo home run by Kyle Schwarber leading off the fourth, to improve to 3-0. His ERA dropped to 1.56, which ranks among the top five in the National League.
With the loss, the Cubs are now .500 for the sixth time this season.
"It's definitely early," Schwarber said. "I think we'd like to piece some wins together. We're not going out there and pressing for that. We know if we go out there and do what we need to do, things will happen. It's just been an unfortunate series of events with everything that's going on. We'll keep going out there and playing our ballgame."
The Cubs miss Anthony Rizzo, and they are 3-3 since he went on the disabled list with tightness in his back. The offense has been on a rollercoaster ride early in the season.
"We have to do better clumping runs together," manager Joe Maddon said. "I liked some at-bats today. Schwarber, [Ian] Happ had better at-bats. [Kris Bryant] continues to have good at-bats. ... I thought we had some decent at-bats. We have to be able to string it together as runs. Overall, I'm seeing better stuff."
Hendricks was frustrated by his outing. <p<> It's the second straight start that Hendricks has served up a pair of home runs, although in the previous outing against the Brewers, both came in the same inning. The right-hander posted a quality start on Thursday and struck out seven over six innings. </p<>
It was an odd day, weather-wise, at Wrigley Field. The game-time temperature at the start was 74 degrees with a hitter-friendly northwest wind of 14 mph. By the fourth inning, the wind had shifted to the northeast at 16 mph and the temperature dropped to 57 degrees.
"In the snap of the fingers, it went from balmy to embalming, I guess," Maddon said. "It got cold very quickly. You could see the wind came on. It did impact. The ball still carried, it seemed. It was two different ballparks completely. That's the beauty of the place."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Start me up: The Pirates lead the National League in runs scored, and Polanco added to that total when he launched an 88.6-mph four-seam fastball from Hendricks into the bleachers with one out in the first. Polanco notched his second homer of the game with one out in the seventh, this time off lefty Justin Wilson, who also gave up Cervelli's homer. Maddon wasn't happy when Wilson walked Josh Bell, which set up Cervelli's blast.
"That was the perfect slot for [Wilson]," Maddon said. "I had that written down before the game. I felt really good about it. It just did not play out."
Cooler by the lake: The wind shifted at Wrigley Field and temperatures became much cooler. That didn't affect Schwarber, who led off the fourth with his third home run. He smacked a 3-2 sinker into the right-field bleachers to tie the game at 1. According to Statcast™, the ball traveled 404 feet and had an exit velocity of 108.6 mph. Schwarber also defied the Pirates' defensive shift when he bounced a double down the left-field line with two outs in the sixth.
"If they keep doing [the shift], hopefully there's more hits that way," Schwarber said. "You never know what's going to happen."
"Looking back on it, I think this series is going to sparkle for some fans. … The Cubs are world champions. They're a good team. They're a team to beat in the Central. It's good for us to take two out of three here, especially early on." -- Williams, on the Pirates winning their first series of the year against the Cubs
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Cubs have homered in 12 straight home games, dating back to last season. That's tied for their longest streak since Aug. 12-Sept. 19, 2015 (17 games).
Friday's game vs. the Braves will mark Yu Darvish's Wrigley Field debut and his first game there since Game 3 of the NLCS when he beat the Cubs. In his last start, the right-hander had good fastball command and a sharp slider, holding the Brewers to two hits over six innings and striking out nine. Darvish's only regular-season game at Wrigley Field was July 16, 2016, when he lasted 4 1/3 innings. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 p.m. CT.
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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.