Schwarber hits 2 HRs, Cubs pound Pirates 17-3

CHICAGO— The Chicago Cubs are piling up runs and wins. And they’re having some laughs along the way.

Kyle Schwarber hit two home runs, Ian Happ and Anthony Rizzo also went deep to back Jose Quintana, and the Cubs pounded the Pittsburgh Pirates 17-3 on Wednesday night.

Chicago tied a season high for runs set against Philadelphia on Saturday and banged out 20 hits to match its highest total since May 12, 2014, at St. Louis. The Cubs (72-60) outscored the Pirates 27-5 in a three-game sweep and moved 12 games above .500 for the first time this year. They also remained 3 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the NL Central lead.

The laughs came in the sixth inning.

Starling Marte made a rather easy catch on Happ’s drive to the left-field corner , except the Cubs rookie didn’t see the umpire’s signal. He just sprinted toward third, but instead of a triple to complete the cycle, he made an easy out.

Watching from the video room, all Schwarber could do was laugh.

“He comes in, lays down, I go, ‘What are you doing?’ ‘(Happ said), I didn’t see the umpire make the out call,'” Schwarber said.

Happ helped stake Chicago to a 5-2 lead with an RBI single in the first and two-run drive off Ivan Nova in the third. Happ also had an RBI double.

As for the non-triple?

“It’s tough to see down the line,” he said. “I knew it was going to be in the corner. I didn’t know if it was going to be against the wall or not. Marte tracked it down pretty easily. I was hauling.”

Rizzo hit his 31st homer, scored three runs and drove in two. Schwarber came through with his second multihomer game of the season, with two-run drives in the fifth and seventh.

Javier Baez became the first Cubs player in seven years to steal home .

Quintana (5-3) held Pittsburgh to three runs and four hits in six innings. He retired 14 in a row after giving up two runs in the first and also had an RBI single.

Nova (11-12) lasted just three innings in his shortest outing of the year, allowing five runs (four earned) and three hits after getting roughed up in Cincinnati last week.

“I don’t think it’s mechanical,” he said. “I left a lot of pitches over the plate, missing a lot on top of the plate. I’ve got to get the pitch down in the strike zone. They took good advantage.”

Rizzo had just driven in Kris Bryant with a double off the left-field wall to break a 2-all tie in the third when Happ drove a two-run homer about two-thirds of the way up the right-field bleachers to push the lead to three. That gave the Cubs a club-record six players with 20 or more homers.

Chicago broke it open in the fifth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Baez had a two-run double and Schwarber finished the rally with his drive to left-center against A.J. Schugel.

NEAT PLAYS

Cubs center fielder Jon Jay had the crowd roaring in the third with spectacular catches on back-to-back plays. He sprawled out on the warning track to snag Andrew McCutchen’s drive after turning the wrong way, then raced into the right-center gap to run down Josh Bell’s liner.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cubs: SS Addison Russell was called back to Chicago to be examined after experiencing a setback in his recovery from a strained right foot. Russell was scratched from a rehab game with Triple-A Iowa because of soreness. … LHP Jon Lester (left lat tightness and shoulder fatigue) is scheduled to pitch Saturday against Atlanta after his 50-pitch bullpen session Wednesday went well.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (11-8, 3.99 ERA) goes for back-to-back wins over Cincinnati as the Pirates open a three-game series against RHP Luis Castillo (2-7, 3.26) and the Reds on Friday. Cole threw seven innings and homered to lead Pittsburgh to a 1-0 win at Cincinnati last week, after going 0-6 in his first nine career starts against the Reds.

Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 3.45 ERA) goes to the mound as Chicago opens a four-game series against Atlanta. LHP Sean Newcomb (2-7, 4.36) starts for the Braves.