CHICAGO — Francisco Cervelli and Andrew McCutchen capped Pittsburgh’s 10-run first inning with consecutive homers off Jon Lester, helping the Pirates pound the Chicago Cubs 14-3 on Sunday.
Cervelli drove in five runs and Jordy Mercer had two hits and three RBIs as the Pirates closed out a 5-2 road trip with their fifth win in six games. All-Star Josh Harrison homered in the ninth and Chad Kuhl pitched three innings of one-run ball in an emergency start after Jameson Taillon was scratched due to flu-like symptoms.
Pittsburgh sent 15 batters to the plate in its highest-scoring inning since it got 10 in the seventh against Colorado on May 17, 2009. It was the first time it scored at least 10 in the first inning since June 8, 1989, against Philadelphia.
Cervelli hit his third career grand slam into the basket in left with two out. McCutchen followed with a drive to left-center for his 17th homer, chasing Lester and drawing a smattering of boos from a frustrated crowd of 41,604 at Wrigley Field.
Chicago (43-45) heads into the All-Star break with a losing record for the first time since it was 40-54 in 2014. The Cubs were 53-35 at the break a year ago on their way to their first World Series title since 1908.
Lester (5-6) was charged with four earned runs and six hits in the shortest start of his 12-year major league career. He also struggled in his previous outing, allowing six runs in five innings in a loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Lester was hurt by an error on third baseman Kris Bryant, who booted David Freese’s one-out grounder with runners on first and second. Josh Bell then hit an RBI single, Jose Osuna doubled home two more runs and Mercer made it 5-0 with a two-run single.
Kuhl allowed two hits and walked three on just two days’ rest after he pitched a career-high seven innings in a 6-3 win at Philadelphia on Thursday night. A.J. Schugel (1-0), the second of three Pittsburgh relievers, pitched three innings for the win.
The Pirates (42-47) improved to 5-1 at Wrigley this year. They were 46-43 at the All-Star break last season.
Pirates: Cervelli was shaken up after he was hit on his left leg by a pitch in the third inning, but stayed in the game. ... Taillon is day to day.
Cubs: 2B Ben Zobrist got the day off. He is batting just .136 (3 for 22) in six games since he was activated from the disabled list on July 1 after being sidelined by an injured left wrist. “It’s been a tough first half, one of the toughest of my career,” he said. “Injuries-wise, I’ve been battling stuff all year so far.”
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (7-7, 4.43 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday night in the opener of a three-game series against St. Louis. After the Cardinals leave town, the Pirates host the Brewers for four games.
Cubs: Manager Joe Maddon has yet to announce a starter for Friday night’s game at Baltimore.