The Cubs beat the Pirates 3-2 on Friday, improving to 16-16 on the season.
Here’s 10 observations from the game.
1. The Pirates squared Zach Davies up for seven runs in 1 2/3 innings on April 10. Friday, almost exactly a month later, he shut them down with seven scoreless innings of five-hit ball — needing just 81 pitches.
2. It isn’t hyperbole to say Friday was Davies’ best start of the season. Before the outing, his longest start this season was 5 2/3 innings — against Pittsburgh on April 4. His fewest runs allowed in an outing were two (one earned) in four innings last Saturday
3. Friday is just the second time this season a Cubs starting pitcher has pitched seven innings, let alone recorded an out in the seventh. Kyle Hendricks pitched all seven in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
4. Following Thursday's off day, Craig Kimbrel didn't pitch the ninth to close out Friday's win. David Ross said Kimbrel was down but isn't injured.
Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Rex Brothers each pitched part of the inning, allowing two runs to make things close. Brothers even loaded the bases with two down before escaping with a fly out.
5. Davies wasn’t the only new Cub to have his best game of the season Friday. Joc Pederson went 3-for-4, his second multi-hit game in a Cubs uniform, out of the leadoff spot.
6. We may get a good look at Pederson in the top spot for at least the next week or so. Ian Happ (bruised ribs) joined Nico Hoerner (left wrist strain) on the injured list Friday. Pederson has extensive experience leading off, with more career starts there than any other lineup spot.
7. For all the talk around Javy Báez and his slow start this season, he’s been rolling offensively the past three weeks. He entered Friday hitting .291 with a .941 OPS since April 17. That was before his 2-for-4 day at the plate.
8. Only El Mago can make a near mistake entertaining. Báez got caught between first and second base in the third, after Jacob Stallings blocked a ball in the dirt. The Pittsburgh catcher had him dead to rights but curiously threw to second, allowing Báez to hurry back to first safely.
Báez later scored.
9. But not every Cub is El Mago on the basepaths. Pederson escaped a rundown in the seventh, getting back to first safely. He found himself in another rundown moments later and wasn't as fortunate, getting tagged out.
10. The Cubs are back to .500 with their fourth straight win. In what has been a rollercoaster start to the season, they've been .500 six times (1-1, 3-3, 4-4, 9-9, 10-10).
On deck: The Pirates and Cubs are back at it Saturday at Wrigley Field. Wil Crowe (0-1, 4.66 ERA) and former Pirate Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.00 ERA) are the probable starters.