CHICAGO — – Zach Davies allowed five hits in seven scoreless innings, Rex Brothers got his first save in eight years and the Chicago Cubs held on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 on Friday, extending their winning streak to four.
Joc Pederson had three hits and an RBI for the Cubs, who were coming off a three-game sweep of the World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Javier Báez and David Bote had two hits each as Chicago got back to .500 at 16-16.
Davies (2-2), acquired from San Diego in a seven-player deal in December, had his best outing for the Cubs on a chilly day at Wrigley Field, with the wind blowing in. The slender right-hander limited the Pirates to five singles while walking one and hitting a batter, and he lowered his ERA from 8.22 ERA to 6.30.
Davies consistently got ahead of hitters with solid fastball command. He kept the Pirates off balance with weak swings, got quick outs and limited his pitch count.
«It sets you in such a better position to navigate each at-bat,» Davies said. «You’re ahead in the count and you throw from a place of confidence. You don’t have to throw over the middle of the plate.»
Davies worked to stay low-key.
«I learned at a young age that emotions don’t help me,» he said. «I’m a thinker. I try to set that aside and focus on the next play.»
Pittsburgh has lost seven of eight and is last in the NL Central at 13-18. The Pirates have six runs in their last five games.
Colin Morin and Jacob Stallings had two hits each. Pittsburgh rallied for two runs off relievers Andrew Chafin and Ryan Tepera in the ninth – and loaded the bases with two outs.
Todd Frazier had a run-scoring a groundout, and Ka’ai Tom had an RBI single.
Pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo dumped a bloop single into center off Brothers, who then hit Adam Frazier with a pitch to load the bases. But Brothers got Bryan Reynolds to fly out on a full-count pitch to end it, and earn his first save since Sept. 29, 2013, when he earned his 19th that season, for Colorado at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cubs manager David Ross admitted he was trying to work around a tired bullpen. Usual closer Craig Kimbrel wasn’t available.
«I was nervous for Rex and our group, but he came through» Ross said. «I think I get more nervous than the guys on the field. I thought that was a real nice performance today from Rex to get the final out.»
Pittsburgh loaded the bases in the seventh, but Davies fielded Frazier’s tapper with his bare hand and got a forceout at the plate. Tom followed with a comebacker, and Davies started an inning-ending double play.
«Obviously, the game ends 3-2, and we had another opportunity in the seventh and just didn’t capitalize,» Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. «We put ourselves in a position to win the game and we came up a hit short, but that inning was unfortunate that we couldn’t at least get one.»
Trevor Cahill (1-4) allowed three runs – two earned – and eight hits in five innings. The right-hander could only chuckle as he got the Pirates first hit in the third.
With Tom at first, Cahill fouled off two sacrifice bunt attempts behind 0-2 in the coubt. He pushed his third attempt to the right side and past charging Cubs infielders to reach base.
Pederson trotted home with an unearned run in the first when Phillip Evans dropped Anthony Rizzo’s fly near the close-in right-field sidewall.
Pederson had an RBI single in the second, and Matt Duffy hit a sacrifice fly to short center against the wind in the third.
CUBS ROSTER MOVE
Chicago designated LHP Kyle Ryan for assignment and recalled LHP Jason Adam from Triple-A Iowa.
Pirates: Manager Craig Shelton expects RHP Chad Kuhl (right shoulder discomfort) to throw live batting practice within the next few days. … 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes (left wrist strain) has resumed swinging a bat, but there’s no timetable for his return. Hayes hit .376 in 24 games as a rookie last year, but has been out since the second game of this season.
Cubs: Placed CF Ian Happ (bruised ribs) on the 10-day injured list retroactive to May 4. Happ was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game after being taken from the field in a cart following a collision with 2B Nico Hoerner during Sunday’s loss at Cincinnati. … The Cubs selected the contract of OF Nick Martini from Iowa. Martini, from suburban Crystal Lake, pinch hit for Davies in the seventh and flied out.
Pirates RHP Wil Crowe (0-1, 4.66) takes the mound against Cubs RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.00) on Saturday. Williams will face Pittsburgh, his former team, for the second time.
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