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MLB: Yu Darvish shines as Chicago Cubs beat Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish, of Japan, throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the first inning of a baseball game in Chicago, on July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

CHICAGO (AP) -- Yu Darvish and Craig Kimbrel looked like they did at the end of last year.

    Talk about a mixed bag for the Chicago Cubs.

    Darvish pitched six shutout innings, Jason Heyward hit a key two-run single and the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 on Friday night.

    Darvish allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked one, bouncing back nicely after he struggled in his first start last weekend against Milwaukee. The Cubs are counting on the Japanese right-hander to help anchor their rotation after he finished strong in 2019.

    While Darvish (1-1) appeared to be moving in the right direction, Kimbrel worked a shaky ninth in a non-save situation. Josh Bell and Colin Moran homered for Pittsburgh before Kimbrel retired three in a row to end the game.

    Kimbrel also had a tough time in his first season with the Cubs, and then walked four in his first appearance this year on Monday.

    "Still trying to find that breaking ball it looks like a little bit," manager David Ross said. "He's still working on some stuff, definitely. Not where he wants to be yet."

    Pittsburgh's lineup continued to struggle after it lost 3-0 to Milwaukee on Wednesday night. It began the day with a major league-low .171 team batting average.

    The Pirates got five of their seven hits in the last two innings.

    Chicago also got a solo home run from Jason Kipnis in its fourth win in five games. He connected in the fourth, sending a drive to the empty bleachers in right.

    It was the first homer of the season for the veteran second baseman, a suburban Chicago native who agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs in February.

    "I'll remember it always," said Kipnis, who got the ball back for his collection.

    The Cubs added two more in the fifth, taking advantage of a combined four walks in the inning for Trevor Williams (0-2) and reliever Nik Turley.

    With two out and the bases loaded, Heyward lined a 0-2 pitch from Turley into right to drive in Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber for a 4-0 lead.

    Williams was charged with three runs, two earned, and four hits in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked three.

    BACK IN ILLINOIS

    First-year Pirates manager Derek Shelton, who turned 50 on Thursday, was born in Carbondale, Illinois, and went to high school in Gurnee, right outside of Chicago. He played college ball at Southern Illinois.

    STAYING CAUTIOUS

    The Cubs haven't had any positive coronavirus tests among their players since they started summer training camp. But Rizzo wants his team to stay vigilant.

    "It's just one of those things where you've got to be prudent, you've got to have faith," he said. "You can't really live in fear of it. But guys are going to get it. We can't sit here and say, oh, look at us, we're doing so great because tomorrow we could have someone walking around here asymptomatic and spread it to 10 guys."

    TRAINER'S ROOM

    Cubs: Quality control coach Mike Napoli is back with the team after he tested positive for the coronavirus before the start of the team's summer training camp. "Nap's got an energy about him that will be nice for the group," Ross said.

    UP NEXT

    Pirates right-hander Mitch Keller (1-0, 1.80 ERA) and Cubs right-hander Tyler Chatwood (1-0, 1.50 ERA) match up on Saturday. Steven Brault will start the series finale for the Pirates against fellow left-hander Jon Lester. Keller is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two career starts against Chicago, both coming last season. Chatwood is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA in 10 appearances versus Pittsburgh.

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