CHICAGO – Yu Darvish pitched six shutout innings, Jason Heyward hit a key two-run single and the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 on Friday night.
Darvish (1-1) allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked one, bouncing back nicely after he struggled in his first start last weekend against Milwaukee. The Cubs are counting on the Japanese right-hander to help anchor their rotation after he finished strong last year.
Chicago also got a solo home run from Jason Kipnis in its fourth win in five games. It was the first homer of the season for the veteran second baseman, a suburban Chicago native who agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs in February.
Pittsburgh's lineup continued to struggled after it lost 3-0 to Milwaukee on Wednesday night. The Pirates began the day with a major league-low .171 team batting average.
Jarrod Dyson singled in Gregory Polanco in the eighth for Pittsburgh's first run. The Pirates had runners on the corners with two out, but Kevin Newman lined to right to end the inning.
Chicago responded with two in the bottom half on Anthony Rizzo's bases-loaded single, and closer Craig Kimbrel worked a shaky ninth in a non-save situation. Josh Bell and Colin Moran homered for Pittsburgh before Kimbrel retired three in a row to end the game.
Kipnis connected in the fourth, sending a drive to the empty bleachers in right. The Cubs added two more in the fifth, taking advantage of a combined four walks in the inning for Trevor Williams (0-2) and reliever Nik Turley.
With two out and the bases loaded, Heyward lined a 0-2 pitch from Turley into right to drive in Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber for a 4-0 lead.
Williams was charged with three runs, two earned, and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three.
BACK IN ILLINOIS
First-year Pirates manager Derek Shelton, who turned 50 on Thursday, was born in Carbondale, Illinois, and went to high school in Gurnee, right outside of Chicago. He played college ball at Southern Illinois.
The Cubs haven't had any positive coronavirus tests among their players since they started summer training camp. But Rizzo wants his team to stay vigilant.
“It's just one of those things where you've got to be prudent, you've got to have faith,” he said. “You can't really live in fear of it. But guys are going to get it. We can't sit here and say, oh, look at us, we're doing so great because tomorrow we could have someone walking around here asymptomatic and spread it to 10 guys.”
Cubs: Quality control coach Mike Napoli is back with the team after he tested positive for the coronavirus before the start of the team's summer training camp. “Got cleared today and is here and smiling and fresh haircut,” manager David Ross said. “Looks like he's rocking the mullet for us. ... It's nice, Nap's got an energy about him that will be nice for the group."
Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller (1-0, 1.80 ERA) and Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood (1-0, 1.50 ERA) match up on Saturday. Steven Brault will start the series finale for the Pirates against fellow left-hander Jon Lester. Keller is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against Chicago, both coming last season. Chatwood is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 appearances versus Pittsburgh.