Kyle Schwarber responded to a very public benching by first-year manager David Ross by doubling twice and driving in two insurance runs with a shot to the gap in right-center field in the eighth inning to push the Cubs past the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 on Monday night.
Ross pulled Schwarber early in a loss to Minnesota on Sunday for misplaying a ball in the outfield. Schwarber insists he took the benching in stride.
Jon Lester (3-2) struck out one and walked one in six efficient innings to pick up his first win since Aug. 11. Lester retired the first nine batters he faced and kept the lowest-scoring team in the majors in check. Only two of Pittsburgh's four hits left the infield, and the Pirates managed to get to third base just once while losing for the 13th time in 14 games.
Javy Baez drove in a run with a surprise bunt and Victor Caratini added an RBI double for the Cubs.
It wasn't all good news for Chicago. Third baseman Kris Bryant's injury-plagued 2020 took another turn when he left in the bottom of the third with what the team called right lower oblique tightness.
The three-time All-Star and 2016 NL MVP spent time on the injured list earlier this season with a sprained ring finger on his left hand while also dealing with a wrist problem. Bryant has appeared in just 32 of Chicago's 54 games.
Pittsburgh rookie starter J.T. Brubaker (1-3) pitched 6 2/3 solid innings to bolster his bid for a shot at the starting rotation in 2021. Brubaker allowed two runs on four hits with a walk and a career-high nine strikeouts. While Brubaker demurred when asked if he thinks he is in the mix to join the rotation next season, the 26-year-old believes he's shown he can be effective.
The Pirates have scored two runs or less seven times during their current 1-13 skid. Their .215 batting average is next to last in the National League and their run total (190) is last in the majors.
Jose Quintana will make his first start in nearly a year on Tuesday. The 31-year-old lefty has spent most of the season on the injured list with multiple health issues.
Steven Brault (1-3, 4.04 ERA) will try to back up his two-hit gem last Thursday against St. Louis. Brault has struggled against the Cubs, going 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in 15 appearances.