Bryant, Hammel, Cubs beat Pirates; fan injured by flying bat
CHICAGO (AP) With each win, the Chicago Cubs seem to gain a little bit more confidence.
Kris Bryant drove in two runs, Jason Hammel threw eight sharp innings and the Cubs beat Pittsburgh 4-0 Monday night, ending the Pirates' five-game winning streak.
Chicago won its third straight. Back home after a 4-2 road trip, the Cubs are showing signs that this year might be different than the previous five losing seasons.
''We know what we have in the clubhouse,'' Hammel said. ''We're excited and it starts with (manager) Joe (Maddon). ... He came in and made us know that we were going to have a good time while we were winning.''
Bryant has been a part of that recently, getting two more hits, including a two-run single. The prized rookie has nine RBIs in 10 games since being called up from the minors, and is gaining respect from whoever he faces.
''He is a big kid with a good swing that looks like he is going to have every opportunity to be a qualified major league player,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''I'll let him write the story.''
Another touted Cubs prospect, rookie Addison Russell, got a hit and scored a run in his Wrigley Field debut.
Russell lost control of his bat in the seventh inning and it flew into the stands, injuring a fan. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, seated near the fan, asked a team trainer for ice and a towel and assisted until paramedics arrived.
The fan was carried from the stands on a stretcher and transported to first aid before being taken by ambulance to a hospital. The Cubs issued a statement saying the fan was ''conscious and communicating with staff while being transported from the stands.''
''I felt so bad. Words can't describe how bad I feel,'' Russell said. ''I found the bat in my locker, so if you see that guy out there I'm willing to give him a bat and sign it and everything. I just feel terribly bad about that.''
Hammel (2-1) gave up four hits, walked none and struck out seven to help the Cubs improve to 11-7.
Anthony Rizzo also got two hits and drove in two runs. Jorge Soler, who began the day in an 0-for-15 slump, and Dexter Fowler each added two hits.
''Getting off to a good start is really a nice thing to do,'' Maddon said.
Vance Worley (2-2) went six innings and allowed nine hits and four runs.
''I made some good pitches and they put them where they weren't,'' Worley said. ''It was pretty simple.''
The Pirates finished with four hits. Neil Walker extended his hitting streak to 10 games, but couldn't help Pittsburgh beat the Cubs in the series opener.
''We preached it in spring training - we've got to survive April,'' Rizzo said. ''We can't put ourselves in a hole like we've done in years past and we're doing a good job of coming to the park every day, playing with a lot of energy, having fun and really playing with a purpose.''
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco was a late scratch because of a tight left groin. Andrew Lambo took his spot in the lineup.
Cubs: Maddon said RHP Justin Grimm (right forearm inflammation) had ''been doing better'' but the manager hadn't heard anything Monday.
Pittsburgh LHP Jeff Locke (2-0, 3.32 ERA) faces Chicago LHP Travis Wood (1-1, 3.24). Wood has struggled badly against the Pirates at Wrigley Field, going 0-5 with a 5.28 ERA in six starts.
WHAT ABOUT JAVY?
INF Javier Baez is at extended spring training after going on leave following the death of his sister. Asked when Baez might return to Triple-A Iowa, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said: ''I think there's a good chance we're talking days with him, not weeks.'' Epstein said Baez will play ''a lot'' of second base and ''mix in'' some shortstop.
DH IN NL?
Maddon and Epstein were both asked whether they would support bringing the designated hitter to the National League. Maddon disputed whether adding the DH would add offense to the NL and didn't want any ''knee-jerk'' reactions to Adam Wainwright's injury with St. Louis, something that's also added to talk about whether the rule would come to the senior circuit. ''I like the game. I like this game the way it sits,'' Maddon said. ''I would hope that they don't change it.'' Epstein was coy. ''I'll save my comments for the league meetings,'' he said. ''I always let them know what I think every year. It always comes up and we'll see if something happens at some point.''
The Cubs recalled OF Junior Lake from Triple-A. To make room for him, they optioned struggling RHP Brian Schlitter to Iowa. Schlitter is 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA in seven appearances. With the move, the Cubs are down to 12 pitchers.