- Jesse Rogers, ESPN Staff Writer
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How it happened: The Cubs got to new Pirates starter J.A. Happ early plating a run in the first inning thanks to a Jorge Soler bases loaded walk. Two innings later Starlin Castro doubled home Anthony Rizzo who doubled in the third. David Ross brought Castro home with an RBI hit to make it 3-0. Castro did it again in the fifth inning driving in Rizzo to make it 4-0 before a Soler single in the sixth made it 5-0. Happ lasted only 4 1/3 innings giving up eight hits and two walks. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta was as good as ever allowing just two hits and three walks over seven innings.
What it means: The Cubs offense came alive with Rizzo and Castro leading the way. It’s been a while since that duo carried the team -- mostly because of a down season by the Cubs shortstop. But he looked confident at the plate hitting line drives to right center and left field for his two doubles. But it’s Rizzo’s work against lefties that continues to astound. He went 3-for-3 off of Happ improving his batting average off left-handed pitchers to .351 and his on-base percentage to .471. Rizzo added a hit off a righty and blooped another ball that landed in left but Chris Denorfia was forced out at third base or it would have been a 5-hit night.
Arrieta was his usual self, dominating everyone in the Pirates lineup save Andrew McCutchen as the Cubs had their 13th shutout of the season. McCutchen singled and walked twice. The rest of the lineup had just one hit and a walk off Arrieta as he won for the 12th time while lowering his ERA to 2.50. The Cubs improved to a season high 11 games over .500 at 58-47 earning their sixth straight win, also season high. They're rolling.
Rotation change: After throwing just 31 pitches in a rain shortened game on Monday the Cubs will move up Jon Lester to throw in Friday’s contest against the San Francisco Giants instead of Saturday. It means three days of rest instead of four and also means Kyle Hendricks will get two extra days off between starts as newcomer Dan Haren already pushed him back a day. Maddon said before the game Hendricks could use the time off anyway considering this is his first full year in the majors.
Wada optioned: Before the game the Cubs activated lefty Tsuyoshi Wada from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa where he was rehabbing anyway.
What's next: Haren (7-7, 3.42) makes his Cubs debut in the finale of the series on Wednesday night. He’ll be opposed by Jeff Locke (6-6, 4.21).