PITTSBURGH (AP) Kris Bryant’s RBI single in the eighth inning lifted the Chicago Cubs to a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.
Pinch-hitter Matt Szczur doubled to left field with one out against Pirates reliever Tony Watson (1-3). Bryant, who had three hits and reached base four times, followed with his tiebreaking hit to put the Cubs back ahead.
Chicago avoided a series sweep ended its five game losing streak. Pittsburgh lost for just the second time in 11 games heading to the All-Star break.
Cubs reliever Pedro Strop (2-2) gave up Andrew McCutchen’s tying sacrifice fly in the seventh, Carl Edwards pitched a hitless eight and Hector Rondon got the last three outs for his 14th save.
The Pirates tied the score at 5-5 after the Cubs failed to turn a double play off a dribbler from Starling Marte in the seventh. With rookie Josh Bell at second base and John Jaso at first, Marte grounded to shortstop Addison Russell with Bell running back to second.
Russell didn’t tag Bell and instead handed off to second baseman Ben Zobrist, whose relay throw to first failed to beat Marte. First baseman Anthony Rizzo threw back across the diamond to third, where Bell avoided a tag from Javier Baez.
With runners on the corners and one out, McCutchen drove in Bell with a fly to deep right field. Strop ended the inning by getting David Freese on a fly ball.
Strop had come in for starter John Lackey, who had another inconsistent outing. After allowing four runs in his first three innings, which included McCutchen’s 14th home run of the season and his second in two days, Lackey rebounded by shutting down the Pirates through the following three innings.
Lackey lost his control again when he walked Bell and allowed Jaso to follow with a single to start the seventh inning.
Pirates starter Jonathan Niese fared worse, giving up five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. He was pulled in favor of Arquimedes Caminero in the fourth inning after surrendering a two-run home run to Albert Almora Jr., retiring the following two batters and allowing back-to-back hits to Bryant and Rizzo in top of the fourth inning..
Niese has lost five of his past six starts and is 7-7 after beginning the season 6-2.
Cubs: OF Dexter Fowler will miss the All-Star Game on Tuesday and likely some time following the break. Fowler, who is recovering form a right hamstring strain, played in his first minor-league rehab game for Class A South Bend on Friday. He will travel to San Diego to take part in the All-Star festivities.
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco did not play for a second consecutive game due to left hamstring tightness. … 2B Josh Harrison also was absent. He exited Pittsburgh’s game Saturday in the third inning after fouling a fastball off his left foot. … RHP Gerrit Cole made his second rehab start with Class Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday. He is expected to rejoin Pittsburgh following the break.
Cubs: Chicago won’t play again until Friday, when it will come out of the All-Star break to face the surging Texas Rangers, who limped into the break.
Pirates: The Washington Nationals will welcome Pittsburgh to Nationals Park following the break for the first game of a three-game weekend set starting Friday.