CHICAGO - Adam Frazier and Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back homers off Kyle Hendricks, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates all the offense they’d need to slip by the playoff-bound Chicago Cubs 2-1 on Wednesday night.
The Cubs clinched their fifth postseason spot in six years on Tuesday night and maintain a fairly healthy lead in the NL Central with four days left in the regular season.
Still, the offense remains a bit of an issue for the Cubs. They’ve scored nine runs total while dropping four of their last five games.
Frazier turned on the fourth pitch he saw from Hendricks (6-5) and sent it to the railing atop the seats in right field and Hayes continued his impressive rookie season when he followed with his fourth of the season, a lined shot to right-center field.
Hendricks surrendered little else over 7 2/3 innings, giving up two run on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts but the Cubs lost their second straight when they couldn’t get much of anything going against Pittsburgh’s Trevor Williams and four relievers.
Williams (2-8) ended a nightmarish season on a high note, settling down after Anthony Rizzo’s 11th home run in the top of the first to record just his second win in 15 starts dating back to last season. Williams struck out four against three walks and three hits to provide him with a dash of momentum heading into an uncertain offseason.
Richard Rodriguez worked the ninth for his fourth save, striking out Ian Happ with a runner on second at the end of a nine-pitch at-bat.
Hendricks came 3-0 with a 1.21 ERA in his last four starts, his precise blend of off-speed stuff baffling hitters along the way. Frazier wasn’t fooled in the first inning and neither was Hayes as they became the first Pirate teammates to lead off the game with consecutive home runs since Jose Tabata and Neil Walker did it on Sept. 20, 2013.
Those shots came in the middle of the team’s first winning season in 21 years. That ship has long since sailed for the current group, which is in the middle of a rebuilding process. Hayes is an important part of the process, and the young third baseman finished with two hits to raise his average to .333.
Cameron Maybin doubled twice for the Cubs but Chicago managed just five hits total and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left at least one runner on base in each of the last four innings.
Cubs: Manager David Ross is optimistic 3B Kris Bryant (lower right oblique) will return at some point this season. Bryant left Monday’s game after feeling something following his at-bat in the second inning. Ross said Bryant felt better on Wednesday and spent a portion of the day going through a series of tests on Wednesday with team trainers to “push some things.”
Pirates: OF Cole Tucker (concussion) is making progress but will not return before the regular season ends Sunday. ... RHP Jameson Taillon (Tommy John) pitched three innings earlier in the week and should be ready for a regular workload at 2021 spring training.
Cubs: RHP Alec Mills (5-4, 4.14 ERA) will make his final start of the regular season in the series finale on Thursday. Mills, who pitched a no-hitter on Sept. 13, gave up four runs in six innings against Minnesota last weekend.
Pirates: RHP Chad Kuhl (1-3, 5.03) is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in his last seven starts. Kuhl has struggled against the Cubs, going 1-6 with a 6.75 ERA in 11 career appearances.