From boos to oohs: After falling into a 4-run hole, Cubs romp past Pirates, 17-8

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO -- Booed by the home crowd after putting themselves in a four-run hole during a sloppy top of the first inning, the Cubs roared back with five home runs in a 17-8 win over the Pirates on Friday afternoon before 39,080 at Wrigley Field.

Rookie Nico Hoerner hit his first major league home run and had four RBIs in his Wrigley debut, while Willson Contreras added two homers.

The Cubs moved a half game ahead of the Brewers for the second National League wild-card spot and 3 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, pending the Brewers-Cardinals night game in St. Louis.

Aided by a 20 mph wind blowing out toward right field, Nicholas Castellanos started the quick comeback with a two-run shot in the first off Steven Brault to cut the deficit to 4-2.

Contreras followed one out later with the first of his two mammoth homers, and after a Kyle Schwarber double, Hoerner's two-run shot gave the Cubs the lead for good.

Anthony Rizzo, leading off for the second straight day, added a grand slam in the third, a line shot that got the crowd into a frenzy. After crossing the plate, Rizzo jumped up on starter Jon Lester like it was the World Series.

Lester (13-10) managed to get through five innings, allowing seven runs, four earned, and 11 hits.

Defensive miscues by Contreras and Albert Almora Jr. contributed to his struggles, but Lester also was his own worst enemy at times.

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After Rizzo's slam made it 10-4, the game seemed all but over. But Lester and Contreras' second error contributed to a three-run fifth that cut the Cubs' lead to 10-7.

Manager Joe Maddon left Lester in to qualify for the win, and he did just enough.

The Cubs exploded again in the fifth after the inning seemingly ended on a Kris Bryant groundout. Maddon challenged, the call was overturned, and the Cubs added seven two-out runs, including Hoerner's two-run double and Jason Heyward's pinch-hit, three-run double.

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