Ian Happ had a triple, double and single and drove in two runs, and Christopher Morel went 3 for 3 with a triple and two RBIs. Chicago had 12 hits to reach double-digits for the third straight game.
“It seems like everybody's contributing,” Cubs manager David Ross said. The at-bats are ... focused, relentless maybe, staying true to their approach."
Stroman thinks the Cubs, at 31-37 are primed to make a run in the watered-down NL Central. Pittsburgh, still in first place at 34-33, has dropped four of five.
“We have a little momentum going right now,” Stroman said. “Things finally kind of turned to our favor.”
Cody Bellinger laced an RBI double in Chicago’s five-run fifth inning after missing a month because of a bruised left knee. Nico Hoerner had two hits.
The Cubs outscored the Pirates 28-11 in the series.
“We need to wash through this,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We didn’t play well this series and we just need to move on and get to Milwaukee.”
Stroman (8-4) allowed four hits and struck out five while walking two in his MLB-leading 13th quality start. He hasn’t lost or allowed more than two run in an outing since May 14 at Minnesota.
The 32-year-old right hander scuffled early, with Tucupita Marcano and Carlos Santana driving in runs in the third to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead.
“Just that one lone inning, where I kind of put balls into play, everything was kind of out of whack,” Stroman said. "But for the most part I thought I was making quality pitches all night.”
Stroman retired 11 of the last 12 hitters he faced before Anthony Kay, the first of three relievers, entered in the seventh. Michael Rucker tossed a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Cubs activated Bellinger from the 10-day injured list before the game and placed him in the lineup, batting sixth and playing first base. It was 2019 NL MVP’s first game since May 15 in Houston when he injured the left knee as he struck the wall making an acrobatic catch.
After the Pirates jumped ahead 2-0 in the third, Happ singled in a run in the bottom half.
The Cubs sent 11 batters to the plate and chased Johan Oviedo (3-6) and reliever José Hernandez with five runs in the fifth to take a 6-2 lead. Oviedo allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Happ’s double to the corner in left tied it at 2. Bellinger legged out his double to right to put Chicago ahead.
“Going to second and running right in the guy’s face is pretty spectacular in my opinion,” Ross said.
Morel followed with an infield RBI single and Nick Madrigal’s bunt plated a run. Marcano flubbed Hoerner’s routine grounder at shortstop allowing another turn to score. Morel's sac fly in the sixth made it 7-2.
Although he’s won a Gold Glove in the outfield, Bellinger is expected to ease back at first base, where he has already played 263 times in the majors. The two-time All-Star called his injury “a pretty big bone bruise.
The 27-year-old will transition back to the outfield as the bruise heals and his ability to change direction improves.
MERVIS TO MINORS
The Cubs optioned infielder Matt Mervis to Triple-Iowa to make room for Bellinger. The 25-year-old hit .167 with three homers and 11 RBIs for Chicago after making his major league debut May 5.
Pirates: Placed RHP Colin Holderman on the 15-day IL with right wrist inflammation and recalled RHP Yerry De Los Santos from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Cubs: LHP Justin Steele (left forearm strain) threw a “touch-and-feel” batting practice session. … LHP Brandon Hughes (right knee inflammation) played catch. … INF Edwin Rios (groin strain) played at Iowa in a rehab assignment.
Pirates: LHP Rich Hill (6-5, 4.23) starts against Brewers RHP Julio Teheran (1-2, 1.48) on Friday night to open a three-game series in Milwaukee.
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