The Chicago Cubs built an early lead and Starlin Castro clubbed a late three-run insurance homer, earning a 7-4 victory to send the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates further down the National League Wild Card standings on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Cubs starting pitcher Chris Rusin earned his first victory of the season, allowing four hits and two earned runs while striking out six in five innings of work.
Chicago got to Pirates starter James McDonald early, as he was pulled from the game before he could complete the fourth inning. Castro tacked on the first run with a RBI single in the third, and the Cubs would add three more runs in the fourth.
The Pirates rallied in the fifth and sixth innings with RBIs from Gaby Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez, closing the lead to 4-3, but Castro's three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth gave the Cubs all the cushion they would need. A solo shot from Andrew McCutchen in the seventh ended the scoring for the day, as Chicago took the first of a four-game weekend series.
With the loss, Pittsburgh dropped its seventh straight game, falling 3.5 games behind in the NL Wild Card hunt.