PITTSBURGH — Josh Bell broke the National League record for most home runs by a rookie switch hitter, hitting his 24th of the season off hurting Chicago ace Jake Arrieta to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Cubs 12-0 on Monday.
Bell had three hits and four RBIs, including a two-run shot off Arrieta in the first inning. Bell moved ahead of former Atlanta star Chipper Jones, who hit 23 for the Braves in 1995. Max Moroff added three hits and four RBIs for Pittsburgh, including a solo home run off Arrieta (14-9) in the third.
Arrieta was removed later in the third inning with an apparent right leg injury. The 2015 Cy Young Award winner clutched his right leg several times following a pitch to Bell. Arrieta attempted to throw a practice pitch after being visited by trainers but failed to release the ball while in obvious pain.
Chad Kuhl (7-10) allowed four hits in seven innings for the Pirates, striking out a career-high eight. Pittsburgh has won three straight.
Arrieta’s second-half surge has helped shake the defending World Series champions from a funk. He came in 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA since the All-Star break, a run that stirred echoes of his brilliance two years ago when he went 13-1 after the break on his way to capturing the Cy Young.
The Cubs maintained a 3½-game NL Central lead over Milwaukee, which lost to Cincinnati.
Arrieta’s run of dominance included six shutout innings in a victory over the Pirates in Chicago last week, the fourth straight start in which he surrendered one run or none.
He looked off from the first batter on Monday. Starling Marte led off with a single and scored when Bell’s fly ball to right field reached the first row of seats above the Roberto Clemente Wall for a 2-0 lead.
Moroff, hitting just .160 on the season, followed with a shot over the seats in right that pushed Pittsburgh’s advantage to 3-0. Arrieta struck out Andrew McCutchen but his first pitch to Bell, the next batter, sailed up and in. Arrieta gingerly walked around the mound trying to stretch his right leg. Manager Joe Maddon came out to check on Arrieta, who tried to let one go from the mound but couldn’t.
The three-run lead was plenty of cushion for Kuhl, who’d lost three of his previous four starts. Kuhl retired 11 straight at one point, striking out the side in the fourth.
Cubs outfielder Leonys Martin, acquired in a trade with Seattle last week, took the mound with one out in the eighth and gave up a two-run home run to David Freese.