Javier Baez ripped a game-winning single up the middle of the infield to give the Chicago Cubs a 2-1 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in 11 innings on Sunday afternoon.
Baez's hit secured a three-game sweep for the Cubs, who have won eight of 10 games to start the season. It is the franchise's best start since 2016, when it started 9-1 and went on to capture its first World Series title in more than a century.
The walkoff hit led to a timely celebration for the Cubs, who surrounded Baez from a distance and offered mock high-fives from several feet apart. Among those celebrating was reliever Jeremy Jeffress (1-0), who earned his first victory with his new team after pitching a scoreless top of the inning.
Pirates reliever Cody Ponce (0-1) drew the loss in his big-league debut.
The game was delayed by rain in the middle of the ninth. The delay lasted one hour before play resumed.
Both teams had opportunities to go ahead in the 10th. The Pirates' scoring opportunity was squelched when Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber threw out Pittsburgh's Kevin Stallings at the plate, and Chicago faltered in the bottom half of the inning despite having someone at third base with nobody out after designated runner Steven Souza swiped the bag.
The Pirates jumped to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Kevin Newman's one-out homer. The franchise's 2015 first-round draft pick turned on starter Jon Lester's 88 mph cutter and deposited it over the wall in left field for his first home run of the season.
Chicago evened the score at 1-1 in the fifth. Willson Contreras led off the inning with a double to left field, and Schwarber followed with a double to center field to bring home Contreras.
Lester did not factor into the decision despite a commanding outing in which he allowed one run on four hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out four as his ERA dropped to 0.82 over 11 innings this season.
The Pirates' pitchers were equally impressive during a designated bullpen day.
Left-hander Steven Brault took the mound first and struck out four over three scoreless innings. Right-hander Chad Kuhl followed, allowing one run in 1 1/3 innings, before seven more Pittsburgh relievers combined for six innings without giving up a run before Baez's hit.
--Field Level Media