Montgomery, Cubs shutout Pirates
PITTSBURGH — 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.