PITTSBURGH (AP) — Adam Frazier is enjoying his return to the leadoff spot for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The second baseman hit a three-run home run off Chicago’s Mike Montgomery after a long rain delay to lead the Pirates to a 5-1 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday night.
One game after tying a major league record by clubbing four doubles, Frazier finished 4 for 4 and scored three runs as the Pirates won for the ninth time in 13 games.
Frazier hit those four doubles on Monday while filling in at the leadoff spot while rookie Kevin Newman got the day off. Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle kept Frazier in the top spot even with Newman back in the lineup, and Frazier responded by continuing to torch the listless Cubs.
Frazier led off the bottom of the first with a single off Kyle Hendricks (7-6), doubled off Hendricks again in the third, then took Montgomery into the seats above the Clemente Wall in right field shortly after a two-hour, five-minute rain delay to give Pittsburgh a five-run lead it never came close to squandering.
The Cubs managed just six hits against starter Joe Musgrove and five relievers and didn’t get a runner past first base until a two-out double by Addison Russell in the eighth. Willson Contreras hit an RBI double in the ninth against Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez to avoid the shutout. Clay Holmes (1-0) worked two scoreless innings to pick up the win.
When Frazier ripped a single leading off the seventh, it gave him a hit in seven straight at-bats, becoming the first Pirate to reach that milestone since Freddy Sanchez did it on May 25-26, 2009. Frazier is 9 for 10 through the first two games of a crucial homestand for Pittsburgh, which is trying to stay in the NL Central race despite a series of injuries to the pitching staff.
Starling Marte had two hits for the Pirates and Josh Bell picked up his major-league leading 78th RBI on a sacrifice fly as Pittsburgh backed up an 18-run outburst against Chicago to pull within two games of .500 (41-43) for the first time since June 2.
Hendricks, making his first start since going on the injured list on June 15 with right shoulder inflammation, ran into early trouble. Frazier laced the third pitch he saw from Hendricks into center field. Marte followed two batters later with a single of his own and Bell’s drive to right field easily scored Frazier to put the Pirates up. Pittsburgh pushed the lead to 2-0 in the third when Frazier led off with a double and scored when Marte doubled to right.
Hendricks gave up two runs in three innings with a walk and four strikeouts for Chicago, which has dropped three straight and four of five.
Dillion Maples came on for Hendricks in the fourth but was pulled after a walk and a two-out pinch-hit by Steven Brault — a starting pitcher by trade. Cubs manager Joe Maddon opted to bring in the left-handed Montgomery to face the left-handed Frazier and Frazier responded by drilling his fourth home run of the season.
Cubs: An MRI exam confirmed LHP Cole Hamels is dealing with a strained left oblique but nothing more serious. Hamels will undergo treatment this week and the team will re-evaluate his status after the All-Star break.
Cubs: Yu Darvish (2-4, 4.98 ERA) looks for his first victory since April 27 on Wednesday. Darvish had a streak of 10 straight no-decisions end in a loss to Atlanta last week.
Pirates: Chris Archer (3-6, 5.50) is scheduled to make his 15th start of the season on Wednesday. Archer left a victory over Milwaukee last Friday after four innings due to discomfort in his left hip.
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