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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Albert Almora Jr. hit a two-run homer, Ian Happ had three hits and the Chicago Cubs rolled to an 8-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
The Cubs had 13 hits, including eight for extra bases, as the offense broke out after totaling four runs in the first three games of the series.
Happ singled and scored in the first, and Javier Baez hit a leadoff double in the second and came home on Rene Rivera’s sacrifice bunt. Jason Heyward singled and was driven in by pitcher Jon Lester’s double in the fourth. Baez and Heyward then drove in Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist with back-to-back singles in the fifth.
Pirates starter Jameson Taillon (7-6) lasted just 4 2/3 innings while giving up six runs and 11 hits. Taillon struck out three.
Lester (10-7) worked around traffic in his first four innings but settled down to go six innings with one run and five hits allowed. He struck out five and walked four.
Almora’s two-run shot scored Rizzo and came off reliever Angel Sanchez.
Happ also threw out a runner at home from center field. The rookie charged in on Taillon’s grounder and cut down Jordy Mercer to end the second inning.
Rookies Josh Bell and Jordan Luplow each had RBIs for the Pirates, who had eight hits but left 11 men on base.
The start of the game was delayed 52 minutes by rain and was played through scattered showers throughout.
The teams split the four-game series in Pittsburgh, with NL Central-leading Chicago taking the overall season series, 10-9.
Cubs: C Willson Contreras made his first rehab appearance since straining his right hamstring. He went 0 for 2 with a strikeout and caught two innings with Class A Myrtle Beach.
Pirates: RHP George Kontos (strained right groin) was activated from the 10-day disabled list. The team expects to activate OF Gregory Polanco (left hamstring strain) and INF/OF Adam Frazier (right hamstring strain) on Friday.
Cubs: John Lackey (11-10, 4.74 ERA) will begin a three-game series with Milwaukee. He’s 6-1 with a 3.83 ERA since the All-Star break.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (6-7, 4.14) starts a series in St. Louis. In his last three starts, he’s given up just two runs.
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