Gerrit Cole became the first Pirates rookie in 11 years to post double digit wins in one season, and Pedro Alvarez drove in three runs on Tuesday night as Pittsburgh regained sole possession of second place in the National League Central Division with an 8-2 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Cole (10-7; 3.22 ERA) struck out six batters and walked one to become the first Pittsburgh rookie with ten or more wins since Josh Fogg won 12 in 2002. Cole allowed two runs and seven hits over six innings, and has now posted a 1.69 earned run average in five September starts. He also drove in a pair of runs with a second-inning single.
Alvarez doubled twice, and now has a career-high 97 RBI’s. Jordy Mercer homered for the Pirates (91-67). Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-4 with his 83rd RBI. Starling Marte also recorded two hits and an RBI. Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and Kyle Farnsworth each pitched a scoreless inning of relief work.
The Cubs recorded ten hits to the Pirates’ twelve, but Chicago (65-93) stranded nine runners on base and grounded into two double plays. Starlin Castro finished the game 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Anthony Rizzo also drove home a Cubs run. Starter Chris Rusin (2-6; 3.93 ERA) took the loss, surrendering four runs and six hits over just two-and-a-third innings as the Cubs set a franchise record with their 50th home loss of the season.
In the final game of the series on Wednesday afternoon, the Pirates’ leading winner, Francisco Liriano (16-7; 2.88 ERA) will start against Chicago’s Jake Arrieta (3-2; 3.94 ERA with the Cubs). Pittsburgh enters the game — and the final four contests of the regular season — with a one-game lead over Cincinnati, and they trail first-place St. Louis by two games, following the Cardinals’ 2-0 victory over Washington on Tuesday on a one-hitter by Cards rookie Mike Wacha.
Wacha was one out away from a no-hitter until the National’s Ryan Zimmerman reached on an infield single with two outs in the ninth inning.