EditorsNote: rewords second graf
David Bote hit a two-out, two-run triple, and Daniel Murphy added a two-out RBI single Thursday for the Chicago Cubs in a 3-0 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
Jon Lester (18-6) pitched six innings and combined with three relievers for a four-hit shutout as the first-place Cubs (93-66) moved a game ahead of the idle Milwaukee Brewers (92-67) in the National League Central. The Cubs’ magic number is three to clinch the division.
Jesse Chavez tossed the ninth for his fourth save.
Pittsburgh won the first two games of the four-game series, but Chicago came back for a split.
Chicago has a final weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals, who are third in the division and in contention for a wild-card spot. The Pirates (80-78) visit the Cincinnati Reds needing one win to clinch a winning record.
Lester had to work out of a few jams but allowed just three hits and four walks while striking out three. Pittsburgh had at least one runner in scoring position in each of the first four innings.
Pirates starter Trevor Williams (14-10) ended his season showing some vulnerability after a strong second half. He gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings, with four strikeouts and three walks. Entering the game, he had been scored upon in four of his previous 71 innings and was 8-2 with a 1.00 ERA in his previous 12 starts.
The Cubs scored twice against Williams in the second. Kyle Schwarber hit what seemed to be a routine fly ball, but center fielder Starling Marte let it drop near the edge of the track after right fielder Jose Osuna backed off. Schwarber was credited with a single.
Ian Happ singled to center. Williams then got two strikeouts before Bote tripled down the line in left to make it 2-0.
In the fourth, Willson Contreras doubled to left with one out, but he was thrown out at home by left fielder Pablo Reyes on Lester’s single. Bote walked, and Murphy drove in Lester with a base hit to center for a 3-0 lead.
—Field Level Media