CHICAGO -- The Pirates ended the first half with a laugher while the defending World Series champion Cubs go into the All-Star break totally befuddled. Francisco Cervelli smacked a grand slam and Andrew McCutchen followed with a solo homer in a 10-run first inning to power the Pirates to a 14-3 victory over the Cubs on Sunday at Wrigley Field.
"I think a lot of us get frustrated and down on ourselves sometimes -- me, too," Chicago's Kristopher Bryant said. "This is not the way you want to go into the All-Star break."
Pittsburgh starter Jameson Taillon was scratched prior to the game because of flu-like symptoms, but that didn't seem to matter. The Pirates gave substitute Chad Kuhl an ample cushion, sending 15 batters to the plate in the opening inning, 12 against Jonathan Lester, who threw 53 pitches before he was pulled. It's the first time in Lester's career (355 starts) that he did not finish the first inning.
"The good news -- we scored 10 runs in the first inning," Cervelli playfully said after the game. "So [Kuhl] didn't have to think about too much."
Kuhl, who started Tuesday and went seven innings, gave up one run on two hits over three innings. A.J. Schugel picked up the win in three innings of relief.
"Incredible. Uncharted territory for [Kuhl], coming off his longest start of his season," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "To go out there and to cut the game to six innings, and to pitch dealing with the adrenaline and the late call, he just said, 'I've got it.'"
Cervelli also hit an RBI single in the fourth, and the five RBIs tied his career high, which he established on May 8, 2010. Josh Harrison finished with three hits, including a solo homer with one out in the ninth for the Pirates.
The Cubs' Joe Maddon, who will manage the National League team in Tuesday's All-Star Game, heads into the break with his team at 43-45; Chicago was 53-35 one year ago. The loss, coupled with wins by the Brewers and Cardinals, dropped the Cubs 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee.
"Of course I didn't anticipate it -- I anticipated better," Maddon said of the Cubs' first-half record. "This is our reality, and you deal with reality, you don't deal with theory. ... We have to get back, play our game, pitch, starting-pitch well. We have to hit more consistently, especially with runners in scoring position.
"I'm still very confident," Maddon said. "I believe in our guys and I'm eager to see us coming out of the break."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First things first: The Pirates collected seven hits in the first, including an RBI single by Josh Bell, a two-run double by Jose Osuna and a two-run single by Jordy Mercer and the two home runs. The Cubs didn't help themselves, committing two errors -- one by third baseman Bryant and another by catcher Willson Contreras. It's the first time the Cubs gave up at least 10 runs in the first inning at Wrigley Field since the Reds scored 10 on Sept. 1, 1947, and the 24th time the Cubs have given up at least 10 runs in one inning in franchise history. This season, the Cubs have allowed 80 runs in the first inning over 88 games.
Bryant's error occurred when he couldn't get a glove on David Freese's grounder, which could've been a potential double-play ball. Fans booed Lester when he was pulled, but Bryant took the blame.
"It should've been me -- I was the reason all of that happened," Bryant said. "I take full responsibility for it. If I make that play, I think it's 0-0."
Defense: The Pirates' infield did its job in the third and fourth innings. Kuhl walked Jonathan Jay and Bryant in the third but got Anthony Rizzo to hit into a 4-6-3 double play, then struck out Ian Happ. In the fourth, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out against Wade LeBlanc, but pitcher Dylan Floro grounded into a 6-3 double play to end that inning.
"We had a restraint. It was three [innings] or 50 [pitches]," Kuhl said. "Did my best to go out there and just hopefully finish those three innings."
"I think people just want to get away, get away from this, get away from the grind. [The Cubs' record] is not for a lack of effort, it's not for a lack of preparation. It is what it is. Take four days to regroup, refresh and show up Friday ready. I think the big thing for us is to play good baseball, play solid baseball. Forget the record, forget the batting averages, our ERA, and just get back to playing good sound baseball. The talent on this team will speak for itself."
-- Lester, on how the Cubs are feeling heading into the break
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cervelli is the sixth player in the modern era (since 1900) with a first-inning grand slam from the No. 2 spot, and first since Michael Trout did so in 2013.
Lester was unable to make it out of the first inning for a start for the first time in his career. His previous shortest outing was 1 1/3 innings on July 3, 2016.
The last time the Cubs gave up more first-inning runs through 88 games was in 1897 (85 runs).
With one out and a runner at second in the Pirates' first, McCutchen lined a ball down the left-field line. He was credited with a double, but the Cubs challenged the ruling, and after a review, the call was overturned. The ball landed just outside the foul line.
The Cubs had the bases loaded and one out in the fourth when Floro hit a grounder to Mercer, who opted to keep the ball and step on second base, then throw to first. Both the runner at second and Floro were called out, but the Cubs challenged the ruling at first and after a review, the call stood.
With two outs and a runner at first in the Chicago eighth, Addison Russell hit a grounder to second baseman Max Moroff, who threw to first. Russell was called safe, but the Pirates challenged the ruling and after a review, the call was overturned.
Pirates: The Pirates will return home after the break and continue on with their stretch against teams in the NL Central, taking on the Cardinals for a three-game set. Gerrit Cole (7-7, 4.43 ERA) is slated to start the series opener at 6:05 p.m. CT on Friday. He gave up two runs in six innings in his last outing, which the Pirates won in Philadelphia, 5-2.
Cubs: The Cubs will open the second half in Baltimore in an Interleague series against the Orioles. Left-hander Mike Montgomery will start on Friday, and the Cubs will wait to see how Kyle Hendricks does after a rehab start Monday to determine the rest of the rotation. First pitch will be 6:05 p.m. CT.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.