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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Montgomery pitched two-hit ball into the sixth inning, Anthony Rizzo went 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBIs, and the sleep-deprived Chicago Cubs beat the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates 7-0 on Monday.
Montgomery (1-1), starting for the first time this season in place of injured Yu Darvish, retired the first 13 batters before giving up a sharp single to Corey Dickerson with one out in the fifth. He struck out five and needed just 76 pitches to get through 5 2/3 innings. Montgomery struck out five without allowing a walk.
Rizzo hit his seventh home run in the second off Chad Kuhl (4-3) to give the Cubs an early lead. Addison Russell gave Chicago breathing room in the seventh with the second pinch-hit home run of his career, a shot to the bleachers in left off reliever Steven Brault that stayed just inside the foul pole.
Kuhl gave up just one run in six innings, but fell to 1-5 in his career against the Cubs. Dickerson’s single and Sean Rodriguez’s infield hit leading off the sixth were the only two base runners for Pittsburgh. The Pirates have dropped eight of 10.
The Cubs arrived in Pittsburgh at 4 a.m. local time following a victory over San Francisco in Chicago on Sunday night. Manager Joe Maddon wondered openly before the game why the start time wasn’t pushed until later in the day, but the well-rested Montgomery, who has worked exclusively in the bullpen this season, was more than ready to go.
Pittsburgh managed to get the ball out of the infield five times with Montgomery on the mound, four harmless fly outs and Dickerson’s single, though any threat was erased when David Freese hit into a double play.
Russell’s second home run of the season made it 3-0 and the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth, leading to a sequence that got Pirates manager Clint Hurdle ejected. Chicago’s Chris Gimenez hit a grounder to shortstop. Sean Rodriguez threw home for one out, but catcher Elias Diaz threw wildly to first attempting to turn two. The ball rolled into right field, with Javy Baez and Kyle Schwarber racing home to give the Cubs a five-run lead.
The Pirates challenged the call after replay showed Rizzo sliding into Diaz’s legs as Diaz attempted to make the throw. It stood upon review, and when Hurdle came out to argue, he was promptly tossed by home plate umpire Bill Welke.
Cubs: Utility player Ian Happ pinch hit in the seventh inning, his first appearance since exiting Saturday’s loss to San Francisco with right shoulder soreness after making a diving stop.
Pirates: They shut down closer Felipe Vazquez for the day as a precaution. Vazquez complained of discomfort in his left forearm after blowing a third consecutive save opportunity in a loss to St. Louis on Sunday. Director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said tests done after the game did not find any structural damage. … C Francisco Cervelli was held out of the lineup for a second straight day due to flu-like symptoms.
Cubs: Jon Lester (4-2, 2.37 ERA) will make his 14th career start against the Pirates. Lester is 5-5 with a 3.50 ERA when facing Pittsburgh.
Pirates: Rookie Nick Kingham (2-1, 3.44 ERA) will make his fourth career start on Tuesday. Kingham is filling in for Ivan Nova, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Monday with a sprained ring finger on his right (throwing) hand.
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