PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gregory Polanco hit his team-leading 19th home run, Francisco Cervelli added his 10th of the season and the Pittsburgh Pirates finished off a frantic trade deadline day with a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night.
Hours after trading for Texas closer Keone Kela and Tampa Bay starting pitcher Chris Archer to give their postseason hopes a jolt, the Pirates won for the 16th time in 20 games by getting to Jon Lester (12-4) in the middle innings and holding on late.
Polanco’s solo homer in the eighth gave Pittsburgh a two-run cushion. The Pirates needed it after closer Felipe Vazquez gave up a single to pinch-hitter David Bote leading off the top of the ninth and Addison Russell followed with a shot to the gap in right-center that scored Bote.
Russell sped to third on the play and was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon review. Vazquez retired the next two batters to pick up his 24th save in 28 opportunities.
David Freese added a pair of RBI doubles for the Pirates, including a drive to the gap in right-center in the fifth that scored Polanco and put Pittsburgh ahead to stay.
Jameson Taillon (8-8) allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings of work, his lone mistake an offspeed pitch to Javy Baez in the fourth that Baez turned into a three-run homer that tied the game.
Baez finished 3 for 4, including his shot to the rotunda behind the left-field seats that boosted his season home run total to 22, but the Cubs hit into two double plays and left seven runners on base to lose for the third time in four games.
Lester hadn’t lost on the road since falling to Cleveland on April 25. He needed 101 pitches to labor through five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
The Pirates were reeling three weeks ago but have moved into the playoff chase by posting the best record in the majors (16-4) since July 8.
General manager Neal Huntington splurged at the deadline, bringing in Archer and Kela while parting with young prospects in outfielder Austin Meadows and pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Taylor Hearn.
Huntington called the decision a difficult one but felt it was worth it with both Archer and Kela under team control through at least 2020. He stressed the moves were made to improve Pittsburgh’s fortunes both now and in the future.
Either way, the Pirates enter August in the thick of a crowded NL playoff chase. Ten teams began play Tuesday within 5½ games of a postseason berth.
CUBS BOLSTER BULLPEN
Chicago provided the bullpen with some help by acquiring right-handed reliever Brandon Kintzler from Washington in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Jhon Romero. Kintzler went 1-2 with a 3.59 ERA and two saves in 45 appearances with the Nationals this season.
Cubs: RHP Yu Darvish (right triceps) reported no pain following a bullpen session on Tuesday. Darvish, who hasn’t pitched since May 20, called it a “starting point” and remains out indefinitely. The four-time All Star also brushed off comments made by former MLB star-turned-ESPN analyst Alex Rodriguez, who said during a broadcast on Sunday night that Darvish’s slow rehab was a distraction in the Chicago clubhouse. Darvish said “it doesn’t matter” what Rodriguez thinks of him. Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Darvish and called Rodriguez’s criticism “rehearsed.”
Cubs: Cole Hamels will make his first start for the Cubs on Wednesday when the teams wrap up their two-game set. Chicago acquired Hamels from Texas last week. The 34-year-old went 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA for the Rangers this season. The four-time All-Star is 3-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 10 career starts against the Pirates, including a 1.22 ERA in five games at PNC Park.
Pirates: Nick Kingham (5-5, 4.80 ERA) will try to bounce back after giving up six runs in three-plus innings in a loss to the New York Mets last Thursday.