By JOHN JACKSON
CHICAGO (AP) The Pittsburgh Pirates had one successful weekend at Wrigley Field. It was so good that even Gerrit Cole had a big swing at the plate.
Cole pitched six-plus innings and hit his first career homer, and the Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs 10-4 on Sunday to move into the second wild-card slot in the National League.
“Yeah, it’s pretty sweet,” Cole said. “Everybody wants to hit a home run in the show, and it happened at Wrigley, which is really cool.”
The Pirates swept the three-game series against the last-place Cubs to improve to 12-4 against Chicago this season, including 7-2 at Wrigley Field. Coupled with Milwaukee’s 9-1 loss to St. Louis, they moved a half-game ahead of the Brewers for the last wild card.
Cole hit a two-run shot in the seventh for the last of Pittsburgh’s four homers. Neil Walker hit a two-run shot in the first and Jordy Mercer and Andrew McCutchen connected in consecutive at-bats in the second.
“Offensively, we showed up early,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We got some pitches out over the plate and we elevated some and got good swings on them. We played defense, we pitched and we hit a little bit. It was a good weekend for us.”
Cole (8-5) allowed four runs, three earned, and nine hits. He struck out eight and walked none in his first victory since July 4 against Philadelphia.
Chicago had won three in a row before the visit from Pittsburgh. Travis Wood (8-12) was tagged for seven runs and nine hits in 1 2-3 innings, making the left-hander just 1-7 with a 5.86 ERA in his last 15 starts.
“Wasn’t Woody’s day today, obviously,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “They came out swinging.”
The Pirates scored five times in the second to open a 7-0 lead. They strung together six straight hits with two outs, highlighted by the homers for Mercer and McCutchen.
“He was throwing his heater and leaving a lot of stuff over the middle of the plate,” McCutchen said of Wood. “You can’t really do that in this game. We were able to key on that.”
Pittsburgh finished with 19 hits. Walker, McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez had three apiece.
Sanchez hit an RBI single off Eric Jokisch to make it 8-0 in the fourth.
The Cubs had a 19-inning scoring drought before Mike Olt’s RBI single in the fifth. Welington Castillo added an RBI double in the sixth.
Olt went 3 for 3 with a walk, and Matt Szczur had a two-run single in the seventh. Chris Coghlan had two hits and scored a run.
“The offense exploded early and allowed me to try some things out there,” Cole said. “When you’re pitching with a lead like that, you can take some risks here and there. I made some pitches early.”
Pirates: INF Josh Harrison was out of the lineup for a second straight game after aggravating a left ankle injury in the completion of a suspended game on Saturday. … The Pirates are concerned that INF Pedro Alvarez’s left foot injury is not improving as much they would have hoped. Alvarez is expected to travel with the team to Philadelphia, but the Pirates are considering sending him back to Pittsburgh for further tests.
Cubs: OF Jorge Soler got the day off after playing 14 innings on Saturday. The Cuban rookie missed a major part of the season in the minors with recurring hamstring injuries and the plan is to give him regular rest in hopes that it will help him stay healthy.
Cubs: RHP Jacob Turner (5-8, 5.54 ERA) goes for his second straight win when he faces RHP Marcus Stroman (9-5, 3.83 ERA) in the first of three games at Toronto on Monday night.
Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke (6-4, 3.75 ERA), who is 4-1 in his past six starts, starts on Monday in Philadelphia. Locke is 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA in three career starts against the Phillies.
Updated September 7, 2014
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