Cubs beat Pirates 3-0, open 1-game NL Central lead

CHICAGO (AP) Jon Lester felt he wasn't as sharp as usual, though the Cubs and their ace left-hander came through in the clutch.

Lester combined with three relievers on a four-hitter, David Bote hit an early two-run triple and the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0 on Thursday night to open a one-game NL Central lead over Milwaukee heading into the final weekend of the season.

A day after the Cubs and Brewers assured themselves of no worse than wild-card berths, Lester (18-6) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and allowed three hits and four walks over six innings. He improved to 6-1 with a 1.71 ERA in his last eight starts.

''His stuff looked normal from this side, but (Lester was) abnormal command-wise and he got through it,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''He battled. He showed his mettle tonight.''

The 34-year-old Lester said he ground out a ''blue collar win'' to keep the Cubs in first place.

''Sometimes when you're able to weave your way inside and out of trouble like tonight, these are the more rewarding wins than the ones where you have your good starts and are just able go out there and execute,'' said Lester, who threw 66 of 108 pitches for strikes.

Steve Cishek, Carl Edwards Jr. and Jesse Chavez followed, with Chavez pitching the ninth for his fourth save in five chances with Chicago.

Chicago (93-66) hosts St. Louis (87-72) in the final series starting Friday, while Milwaukee (92-67) is at home against Detroit. The Cardinals (87-72) trail the Los Angeles Dodgers by one game for the second wild-card berth.

The Cubs' win means the NL Central champion, Chicago or Milwaukee, will finish with the league's best record and will play the winner of Tuesday's wild-card game. East champion Atlanta will play the West champion, Colorado or the Dodgers.

And the Cubs, who didn't celebrate after clinching a fourth straight postseason berth on Wednesday, want the division crown.

''We've made the playoffs and nobody in that clubhouse is satisfied with that,'' Lester said. ''I think we call kind of expect to win the division.

''We feel like that's one of our goals and hopefully that comes to fruition this weekend. We'll celebrate then.''

Trevor Williams (14-10) gave up all three runs, eight hits and three walks in five innings. He had been 4-0 in six starts since losing to the Cubs on Aug. 17 and is 7-3 with a 1.38 ERA since the All-Star break.

''I felt like it was a battle from the first pitch,'' Williams said. ''This is their third time seeing me this season, and they can swing the bat.

''It's not going to give me a sour taste in my mouth, but it's going fire me up for this offseason and make me work extra hard to finish next season strong.''

Bote started at third base in place of Kris Bryant, who missed his second game with a sore left wrist after getting hit by a pitch by Chris Archer on Tuesday.

Lester singled in the fourth and scored on Daniel Murphy's single.

WHAT IF?

If the Cubs and Brewers finish tied for first, the Cubs would host an NL Central tiebreaker game Monday because Chicago won the season series 11-8.

CROWDS

The crowd of 38,415 pushed the Cubs season attendance at Wrigley Field over the 3 million mark for the third straight season.

RETURN OF KANG

The Pirates expect INF Jung Ho Kang to join the club Friday and be active for a season-ending series at Cincinnati in what would be his first major league appearance in two years. Kang, who plays third base and shortstop, hit .273 with 36 homers and 120 RBIs in 229 games for the Pirates in 2015 and 2016,

The 31-year-old didn't play in North America between September 2016 and June 2018 because of visa issues connected to three DUI arrests his native South Korea.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Pirates: OF Jordan Luplow underwent an appendectomy Thursday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The 24-year-old appeared in 37 games this season.

Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon said Bryant could start Friday against St. Louis. Bryant, the 2016 NL MVP, had two stints on the disabled list this season because of left shoulder inflammation.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Nick Kingham (5-7, 5.23) starts Friday at Cincinnati against RHP Anthony DeSclafani (7-7, 4.91).

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (13-11, 3.49) opens the series against the Cardinals vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (2-3, 4.08.) In his last six starts, Hendricks is 4-1 with a 1.37 ERA.

---

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Copyright 2018 by AP. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of AP is strictly prohibited.

123456789RHE
PIT80-78
000000000040
CHC93-66
02010000X3101
  • W: J. Lester (18-6)L: T. Williams (14-10)S: J. Chavez (5)
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
P. Reyes LF40100013.314.375.510.8850.5
S. Marte CF20000200.274.323.450.7732.0
J. Bell 1B30000103.264.359.411.7703.0
F. Cervelli C30000113.259.378.431.8090.5
J. Osuna RF40000015.220.248.380.628-0.5
J. Harrison 2B40000003.249.291.364.6540.0
C. Moran 3B40100010.275.338.398.7361.5
J. Mercer SS40200011.253.316.383.6991.5
T. Williams P10000101.116.156.116.2721.0
D. Neverauskas P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
a- K. Kramer PH10000000.107.167.107.2740.0
C. Holmes P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
b- A. Frazier PH10000001.280.346.460.8060.0
  • a-flied out for Neverauskas in the 7th
  • b-hit into fielder's choice for Holmes in the 9th
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
D. Murphy 2B40110002.293.331.449.7802.0
A. Almora CF00000000.284.321.377.6990.0
B. Zobrist RF-2B40100012.310.381.444.8251.5
A. Rizzo 1B40000001.278.373.461.8340.0
J. Baez SS30100111.293.329.563.8912.5
K. Schwarber LF41100002.241.358.472.8302.0
J. Chavez P00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
I. Happ CF31200111.234.354.411.7652.5
T. Gore PR-LF00000000.200.200.200.4002.0
W. Contreras C40100013.252.343.390.7331.5
J. Lester P21100012.119.119.169.2881.5
a- T. La Stella PH10100000.271.342.337.6802.0
S. Cishek P0000-000.167.167.167.000-
C. Edwards P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
b- J. Heyward PH-RF10000011.272.337.400.737-0.5
D. Bote 3B20120111.239.317.411.7285.5
  • a-doubled for Lester in the 6th
  • b-struck out for Edwards in the 8th
BATTING
  • 2B - C. Moran (18)
  • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - P. Reyes 3 (3), J. Osuna 2 (2), J. Harrison 3 (3), A. Frazier
BATTING
  • 2B - B. Zobrist (28), J. Baez (39), W. Contreras (27), T. La Stella (8)
  • 3B - D. Bote (2)
  • RBI - D. Murphy (41), D. Bote 2 (32)
  • 2-Out RBI - D. Murphy (18), D. Bote 2 (21)
  • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - D. Murphy 2 (2), B. Zobrist 2 (2), J. Baez, K. Schwarber, I. Happ, J. Heyward
BASERUNNING
  • SB - J. Bell (2)
BASERUNNING
  • SB - T. Gore (6)
  • CS - I. Happ (4)
FIELDING
  • Outfield Assist - P. Reyes (2)
FIELDING
  • DP - (Baez-Murphy-Rizzo)
  • E - D. Bote (4)
PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
T. Williams (L, 14-10)5.08333403.111.18-2.0
D. Neverauskas1.01000107.921.522.5
C. Holmes2.01000207.252.066.0
PITCHERSIP
T. Williams (L, 14-10)5.0
D. Neverauskas1.0
C. Holmes2.0
PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
J. Lester (W, 18-6)6.03004303.321.3122.5
S. Cishek (H, 25)1.00000102.221.043.5
C. Edwards (H, 23)1.00001002.631.292.0
J. Chavez (S, 5)1.01000102.631.099.5
PITCHERSIP
J. Lester (W, 18-6)6.0
S. Cishek (H, 25)1.0
C. Edwards (H, 23)1.0
J. Chavez (S, 5)1.0
PITCHING
  • WP - T. Williams (4)
  • Pitches-Strikes - T. Williams 98-62, D. Neverauskas 13-10, C. Holmes 31-17
  • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - T. Williams 5-4, D. Neverauskas 2-0, C. Holmes 3-1
  • Batters Faced - T. Williams 24, D. Neverauskas 4, C. Holmes 7
PITCHING
  • Pitches-Strikes - J. Lester 108-66, S. Cishek 12-10, C. Edwards 12-6, J. Chavez 16-11
  • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J. Lester 8-7, C. Edwards 2-1, J. Chavez 2-0
  • Batters Faced - J. Lester 25, S. Cishek 3, C. Edwards 4, J. Chavez 4
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
123456789RHE
PIT80-78
000000000040
CHC93-66
02010000X3101
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
P. Reyes LF40100013.314.375.510.8850.5
S. Marte CF20000200.274.323.450.7732.0
J. Bell 1B30000103.264.359.411.7703.0
F. Cervelli C30000113.259.378.431.8090.5
J. Osuna RF40000015.220.248.380.628-0.5
J. Harrison 2B40000003.249.291.364.6540.0
C. Moran 3B40100010.275.338.398.7361.5
J. Mercer SS40200011.253.316.383.6991.5
T. Williams P10000101.116.156.116.2721.0
D. Neverauskas P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
a- K. Kramer PH10000000.107.167.107.2740.0
C. Holmes P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
b- A. Frazier PH10000001.280.346.460.8060.0
Total3104005520-----
  • a-flied out for Neverauskas in the 7th
  • b-hit into fielder's choice for Holmes in the 9th
HITTERSABRHRBIHRBBSOLOBAVGOBPSLGOPSFPTS
D. Murphy 2B40110002.293.331.449.7802.0
A. Almora CF00000000.284.321.377.6990.0
B. Zobrist RF-2B40100012.310.381.444.8251.5
A. Rizzo 1B40000001.278.373.461.8340.0
J. Baez SS30100111.293.329.563.8912.5
K. Schwarber LF41100002.241.358.472.8302.0
J. Chavez P00000000.000.000.000.0000.0
I. Happ CF31200111.234.354.411.7652.5
T. Gore PR-LF00000000.200.200.200.4002.0
W. Contreras C40100013.252.343.390.7331.5
J. Lester P21100012.119.119.169.2881.5
a- T. La Stella PH10100000.271.342.337.6802.0
S. Cishek P0000-000.167.167.167.000-
C. Edwards P0000-000.000.000.000.000-
b- J. Heyward PH-RF10000011.272.337.400.737-0.5
D. Bote 3B20120111.239.317.411.7285.5
Total32310303716-----
  • a-doubled for Lester in the 6th
  • b-struck out for Edwards in the 8th
BATTING
  • 2B - C. Moran (18)
  • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - P. Reyes 3 (3), J. Osuna 2 (2), J. Harrison 3 (3), A. Frazier
BATTING
  • 2B - B. Zobrist (28), J. Baez (39), W. Contreras (27), T. La Stella (8)
  • 3B - D. Bote (2)
  • RBI - D. Murphy (41), D. Bote 2 (32)
  • 2-Out RBI - D. Murphy (18), D. Bote 2 (21)
  • Runners left in scoring position, 2-Out - D. Murphy 2 (2), B. Zobrist 2 (2), J. Baez, K. Schwarber, I. Happ, J. Heyward
BASERUNNING
  • SB - J. Bell (2)
BASERUNNING
  • SB - T. Gore (6)
  • CS - I. Happ (4)
FIELDING
  • Outfield Assist - P. Reyes (2)
FIELDING
  • DP - (Baez-Murphy-Rizzo)
  • E - D. Bote (4)
PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
T. Williams (L, 14-10)5.08333403.111.18-2.0
D. Neverauskas1.01000107.921.522.5
C. Holmes2.01000207.252.066.0
Total8.01033370---
PITCHERSIP
T. Williams (L, 14-10)5.0
D. Neverauskas1.0
C. Holmes2.0
Total8.0
PITCHERSIPHRERBBSOHRERAWHIPFPTS
J. Lester (W, 18-6)6.03004303.321.3122.5
S. Cishek (H, 25)1.00000102.221.043.5
C. Edwards (H, 23)1.00001002.631.292.0
J. Chavez (S, 5)1.01000102.631.099.5
Total9.0400550---
PITCHERSIP
J. Lester (W, 18-6)6.0
S. Cishek (H, 25)1.0
C. Edwards (H, 23)1.0
J. Chavez (S, 5)1.0
Total9.0
PITCHING
  • WP - T. Williams (4)
  • Pitches-Strikes - T. Williams 98-62, D. Neverauskas 13-10, C. Holmes 31-17
  • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - T. Williams 5-4, D. Neverauskas 2-0, C. Holmes 3-1
  • Batters Faced - T. Williams 24, D. Neverauskas 4, C. Holmes 7
PITCHING
  • Pitches-Strikes - J. Lester 108-66, S. Cishek 12-10, C. Edwards 12-6, J. Chavez 16-11
  • Ground Balls-Fly Balls - J. Lester 8-7, C. Edwards 2-1, J. Chavez 2-0
  • Batters Faced - J. Lester 25, S. Cishek 3, C. Edwards 4, J. Chavez 4
  • 4TH INNING
    Murphy singled to center, Lester scored, Bote to third03
  • 2ND INNING
    Bote tripled to deep left, Schwarber and Happ scored02
  • 9TH INNING
    • Jesse Chavez pitching
    • Albert Almora in center field
    • J. Harrison: Harrison grounded out to third
    • C. Moran: Ball, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Strike looking, Moran struck out looking
    • J. Mercer: Strike swinging, Mercer singled to shallow left
    • Adam Frazier hit for Clay Holmes
    • A. Frazier: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Frazier grounded into fielder's choice to first, Mercer out at second
    • Middle of the 9th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
  • 8TH INNING
    • Carl Edwards relieved Steve Cishek
    • S. Marte: Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, Marte walked
    • J. Bell: Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Bell safe at first on 3rd baseman Bote fielding error, Marte to second
    • F. Cervelli: Strike looking, Cervelli grounded out to second, Marte to third, Bell out at second
    • J. Osuna: Ball, Osuna flied out to deep center
    • Middle of the 8th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 1 Error)
    • C. Holmes Pitching:
    • K. Schwarber: Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Schwarber grounded out to first
    • I. Happ: Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Happ singled to center
    • Terrance Gore ran for Ian Happ
    • W. Contreras: Ball, Gore stole second, Foul, Ball, Contreras grounded out to second, Gore to third
    • Jason Heyward hit for Carl Edwards
    • J. Heyward: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Heyward struck out swinging
    • End of the 8th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
  • 7TH INNING
    • Steve Cishek pitching
    • J. Mercer: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Mercer struck out looking
    • Kevin Kramer hit for Dovydas Neverauskas
    • K. Kramer: Strike swinging, Strike looking, Kramer flied out to deep left
    • P. Reyes: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Reyes lined out to center
    • Middle of the 7th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
    • Clay Holmes pitching
    • B. Zobrist: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Zobrist grounded out to second
    • A. Rizzo: Ball, Strike looking, Rizzo flied out to right
    • J. Baez: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Baez struck out swinging
    • End of the 7th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
  • 6TH INNING
    • J. Lester Pitching:
    • J. Osuna: Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Osuna flied out to right
    • J. Harrison: Strike swinging, Harrison flied out to deep center
    • C. Moran: Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Ball, Moran grounded out to second
    • Middle of the 6th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
    • Dovydas Neverauskas relieved Trevor Williams
    • W. Contreras: Ball, Ball, Contreras grounded out to third
    • Tommy La Stella hit for Jon Lester
    • T. La Stella: Strike looking, Foul, La Stella doubled to left center
    • D. Bote: Strike looking, Foul, Strike swinging, Bote struck out swinging
    • D. Murphy: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Murphy grounded out to second
    • End of the 6th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
  • 5TH INNING
    • J. Lester Pitching:
    • S. Marte: Marte grounded out to third
    • J. Bell: Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Foul, Bell grounded out to shortstop
    • F. Cervelli: Cervelli popped out to first
    • Middle of the 5th (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
    • T. Williams Pitching:
    • A. Rizzo: Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Rizzo grounded out to shortstop
    • J. Baez: Foul, Baez doubled to left center
    • K. Schwarber: Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Schwarber reached on fielder's choice to pitcher, Baez out at third, Schwarber to second
    • I. Happ: Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Foul tip, Happ struck out on foul tip
    • End of the 5th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
  • 4TH INNING
    • J. Lester Pitching:
    • J. Harrison: Strike looking, Harrison popped out to first
    • C. Moran: Moran lined out to center
    • J. Mercer: Strike looking, Mercer singled to shallow left
    • T. Williams: Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Ball, Williams walked, Mercer to second
    • P. Reyes: Ball, Ball, Foul, Strike looking, Strike looking, Reyes struck out looking
    • Middle of the 4th (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
    • T. Williams Pitching:
    • I. Happ: Ball, Foul, Foul, Foul, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Happ walked
    • W. Contreras: Pickoff attempt, Strike swinging, Happ caught stealing second, catcher to second, Contreras doubled to shallow left
    • J. Lester: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Lester singled to left, Contreras out at home
    • D. Bote: Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, Ball, Bote walked, Lester to second
    • D. Murphy: Ball, Murphy singled to center, Lester scored, Bote to third
    • B. Zobrist: Ball, Foul, Zobrist grounded out to first
    • End of the 4th (1 Run, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
  • 3RD INNING
    • J. Lester Pitching:
    • S. Marte: Ball, Foul, Marte grounded out to third
    • J. Bell: Ball, Foul, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Ball, Ball, Bell walked
    • F. Cervelli: Foul, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Ball, Foul, Strike swinging, Cervelli struck out swinging, Bell stole second
    • J. Osuna: Ball, Osuna grounded out to third
    • Middle of the 3rd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
    • T. Williams Pitching:
    • B. Zobrist: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Strike swinging, Zobrist struck out swinging
    • A. Rizzo: Ball, Rizzo lined out to center
    • J. Baez: Foul, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Baez walked
    • K. Schwarber: Strike looking, Ball, Schwarber grounded out to first
    • End of the 3rd (0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors)
  • 2ND INNING
    • J. Lester Pitching:
    • C. Moran: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Moran doubled to left
    • J. Mercer: Strike looking, Strike looking, Mercer lined out to second
    • T. Williams: Ball, Strike looking, Williams grounded out to shortstop, Moran to third
    • P. Reyes: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Foul, Reyes grounded out to third
    • Middle of the 2nd (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
    • T. Williams Pitching:
    • K. Schwarber: Foul, Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Schwarber singled to deep right center
    • I. Happ: Happ singled to shallow center, Schwarber to second
    • W. Contreras: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Contreras struck out swinging
    • J. Lester: Strike swinging, Strike swinging, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Lester struck out looking
    • D. Bote: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike swinging, Foul, Ball, Schwarber to third, Happ to second on wild pitch, Bote tripled to deep left, Schwarber and Happ scored
    • D. Murphy: Ball, Foul, Strike swinging, Murphy lined out to center
    • End of the 2nd (2 Runs, 3 Hits, 0 Errors)
  • 1ST INNING
    • J. Lester Pitching:
    • P. Reyes: Strike looking, Strike looking, Reyes reached on an infield single to shortstop
    • S. Marte: Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball, Marte walked, Reyes to second
    • J. Bell: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Ball, Foul, Bell lined out to center
    • F. Cervelli: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Ball, Cervelli walked, Reyes to third, Marte to second
    • J. Osuna: Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Strike looking, Strike swinging, Osuna struck out swinging
    • J. Harrison: Strike swinging, Harrison grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop, Cervelli out at second
    • Middle of the 1st (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)
    • T. Williams Pitching:
    • D. Murphy: Strike looking, Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Murphy flied out to left
    • B. Zobrist: Ball, Strike looking, Zobrist doubled to right
    • A. Rizzo: Strike looking, Strike (foul tip), Rizzo flied out to center
    • J. Baez: Strike swinging, Ball, Strike looking, Baez grounded out to third
    • End of the 1st (0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors)