Lester Slams the Door, Cubs Sweep Pirates in Pittsburgh

The Chicago Cubs sweep the Pirates in Pittsburgh today to close out their three-game series. They outscored the Pirates in the series 20-5 adding to their already Major League leading run differential, which now stands at +93 runs. The next closest team, the St. Louis Cardinals, has a run differential of +40. That’s the best run differential through 26 games since 1905, when the Giants had a +96 differential.

Cubs win the game today by the score of 6-2 (Box Score).

Pitching matters

Jon Lester didn’t have his best stuff today but he got it done when he needed to. He allowed multiple runners on base in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings before exiting the game after 5 2/3. He was always able to get out of trouble though, pitching well when needed or getting help from his teammates.

In the second inning, after a one-out Sean Rodriguez single, David Ross picked off Rodriguez at first base with a great snap-throw to Rizzo (video at MLB.com). Lester also got out of a bases loaded no-out jam in the fourth inning, going strikeout, fly-out, strikeout on consecutive batters.

Timely hitting

The Cubs continue hitting well as a team. They combined to hit 12-for-37, including five walks today.

Anthony Rizzo continues to smoke the ball, going 3-for-5 and scoring three runs with one RBI, including a home run and a double.

Javier Baez added some offensive mojo today to go with his stellar defensive outing yesterday at third base. He was 3-for-5 with two RBIs, including a ground rule double that scored Rizzo in the top of the fifth inning.

Bullpen matters

Adam Warren came on in relief in the sixth inning with two runners on base and forced John Jaso to ground out, ending the Pirates scoring threat. Things got shaky for Adam in the following inning as he gave up a two-run home run to Matt Joyce. He went on to get out of the inning without any additional damage.

Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon closed things out in the eighth and ninth innings allowing no runs.

Bottom line

The Cubs were simply too much for the Pirates to handle in this game and the entire series. The Pirates were never in the game and, at times. seemed resigned to accept the loss, the sweep, and move along with their season. The Cubs will happily head home with brooms in hand.

Next up

The Cubs head back home to Wrigley Field set to take on the Nationals in a four-game series that starts at 7:05 CDT tomorrow. Kyle Hendricks will pitch for the Cubs in the first game.

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