for this game

Lester outduels Cole as Cubs top Pirates

May 17, 2015 - 12:28 AM Chicago, IL ( - Jon Lester struck out seven over seven solid innings, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-1, to earn their sixth straight win.

Lester (4-2) pitched into the seventh inning for third time in his last four outings after his poor start to the season that saw him allow 12 runs in 15 2/3 innings over his first three starts. Travis Wood made his first relief appearance since 2011 and earned his first career save.

Anthony Rizzo collected two hits, a run batted in and his eighth steal, and Starlin Castro drove in two runs despite finishing 0-for-3.

The Cubs won six games in a row for the first time since 2011 when they won seven in a row from July 31 to Aug. 6.

"Each day, you try and go out and win that game," said Lester. "We're here sitting at six now. We'll enjoy this one and show up tomorrow and try to do it again."

Gerrit Cole (5-2) was nearly as good as Lester but did not receive much support. He struck out eight and only allowed two runs in six innings. Sean Rodriguez homered in the third inning to account for the Pirates' only run.

"They were fouling pitches off, and I wasn't executing with two strikes," said Cole. "So it's a little bit frustrating."

After Castro's sacrifice fly gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the first, Rodriguez jumped on Lester's first pitch of the third inning to tie the game.

The Cubs went back in front quickly. Kris Bryant went first-to-third on Rizzo's single, and Castro's groundout to third base scored Bryant in the bottom of the frame.

Lester faced the minimum over the first two innings, but over the next six frames, the Pirates would have at least one runner reach second base. They would bat just 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position, though, and left 10 runners on base.

Back-to-back infield hits with two outs got Lester into another jam in the seventh. He buried Andrew McCutchen in an 0-2 count before manager Joe Maddon and the trainer came out to check on the star pitcher, who appeared to hurt his leg after delivering a pitch. He stayed in the game and eventually struck out McCutchen looking to end his day after seven strong innings.

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The Pirates had a hand in allowing the Cubs to score two insurance runs in the seventh. Addison Russell walked, stole second base and moved to third on Chris Stewart's throwing error, and a wild pitch from Arquimedes Caminero allowed him to score. Rizzo drove in Dexter Fowler with a sacrifice fly after a balk by Caminero moved him up to third base.

Brian Schlitter, recalled from Triple-A Iowa earlier Saturday, allowed back- to-back hits to start the eighth in relief of Lester. With two runners in scoring position, Phil Coke got Gregory Polanco to ground out without either runner advancing, and Jason Motte then came on to strike out Pedro Alvarez and get Stewart to line out to end the inning.

Wood only needed 10 pitches to finish a 1-2-3 ninth to give the Cubs a chance at a series sweep on Sunday.

Game Notes

After Friday's five hour and one minute marathon, Saturday's game lasted three hours and five minutes ... Lester surpassed 1,500 strikeouts in his career ... ... Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang each had three hits for Pittsburgh ... Sunday's series finale will feature Chicago's Jake Arrieta against Pittsburgh's A.J. Burnett.