Chicago Cubs ride Kris Bryant's power surge in rout of Pittsburgh Pirates

By Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange
Kris Bryant hits a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field on Friday. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI
Kris Bryant hits a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the sixth inning at Wrigley Field on Friday. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

CHICAGO -- Kris Bryant has been waiting for a day like this.

The Chicago Cubs' third baseman went 4-for-5 with two home runs, a triple and a single in a 6-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game weekend series.


"I felt pretty good about my approach, where I'm at and taking my walks," said Bryant, who recorded his 10th career multi-homer day along with four RBIs and three runs scored for the Cubs (43-43). "But you need a game like that to get back on track and hopefully it gets the team back on track, too."

Anthony Rizzo got in on the fun with his team-leading 20th homer of the season.

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Cubs starter Eddie Butler had no decision in a four-plus inning effort in a sluggish game that took 3 hours, 46 minutes to complete.


But he was rather impressed with Bryant's effort.

"It's unbelievable, he put the team on his back," Butler said. "Those things are huge, the amount of hustle and he was really locked in. We're going to need that through the rest of this stretch and same thing in the second half."

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Carl Edwards Jr. (3-1) struck out three, walked two and didn't allow a hit over 1 2/3 innings of relief to earn the victory.

Pirates starter Trevor Williams (3-4) took the loss in a 3 2/3 inning outing while Andrew McCutchen paced the Pirates (40-47) with a 3-for-4 afternoon plus a walk.

"We definitely had some opportunities there in the game, we just weren't able to get the big hit like we needed," McCutchen said. "Trevor pitched his tail off for us and we weren't able to finish like we should have. If we were able to finish, we were able to win that game."

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Chicago broke a scoreless tie in the fourth on Bryant's triple into the left field corner.

Rizzo then clubbed his homer, sending Williams' 2-2 pitch into the right field bleachers for a 3-0 lead. It gave him 20 homers for the fifth straight year and at least 20 before the All-Star break for the third time.


That spelled the end for Williams, who threw 98 pitches while giving up three earned runs on six hits while striking out three and walking a pair.

Butler departed in the top of the fifth after plunking Josh Harrison with his second pitch of the inning. He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out one in his outing.

"I would have liked to have been more effective with my pitches, but I was able to do enough to keep us there, knotted a zero for a while," Butler said.

Kyle Schwarber collected a leadoff double -- his first hit since returning from Triple-A Iowa on Thursday -- to open the Cubs' fifth. Schwarber reached third on Jason Heyward's fielder's choice grounder but was tagged out at home on Victor Caratini's infield ground ball.

Bryant then launched a towering solo home run -- his 17th of the season -- deep into the left field bleachers with two out in the sixth for a 4-0 Cubs lead.

The Pirates broke the shutout in the seventh as Josh Bell doubled home McCutchen with one out, trimming the Chicago lead to 4-1.


Bryant's second homer of the day -- his 18th -- came with two outs in the eighth and brought home Willson Contreras for a 6-1 advantage.

Both teams had plenty of base runners but no runs through the first 3 1/2 innings, including bases-loaded situations in the Pirates' first and the Cubs' second.

"We had 11 men on base, for three innings it was mayhem out there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There was a lot to watch and a lot going on. Men are out there trying to create things -- both sides. Those missed opportunities they usually can come back to haunt you."

NOTES: Friday's series opener kicked off a 10-game run against NL Central Division opponents for the Pirates. ... OF Starling Marte went 0-for-3 in his third rehab game at Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. He's serving an 80-game PED suspension and is eligible for reinstatement on July 18. ... The Pirates moved C Elias Diaz to Triple-A Indianapolis while calling up RHP A.J. Schugel. ... Cubs C Willson Contreras has 23 home runs since last year's major league debut and surpassed Cal Neenan (1957-58) for the most by a Cubs' catcher in his first two seasons. ... Chicago recalled RHP Dylan Floro from Triple-A Iowa on Friday and optioned LHP Jack Leathersich to Triple-A. ... C Victor Caratini made his first start Wrigley Field and went 0-for-2 with a walk. He worked his first game behind the plate on June 30 at Cincinnati. ... RHP Ivan Nova (8-6, 3.24 ERA) goes for Pittsburgh against Chicago RHP Jake Arrieta (8-6, 4.33 ERA) on Saturday.


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