Zach Davies wins Chicago debut as Cubs beat Pirates 4-3

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CHICAGO (AP)Zach Davies worked quickly. He moved the ball around the plate. He made a couple of big pitches at key moments.

It was a familiar scene for the Chicago Cubs. Only Davies was wearing their uniform this time.

Davies pitched into the sixth inning in his Cubs debut, leading his new team to a 4-3 victory over the short-handed Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

”It’s great. It’s a little bit different playing on this side of the field,” Davies said, ”and get to experience that kind of crowd cheering for you instead of against you.”

Ian Happ homered and Kris Bryant reached three times as Chicago earned its second straight win after losing on opening day. Joc Pederson also drove in a run with a groundout.

Davies, acquired in the December trade that sent Yu Darvish to San Diego, permitted two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked three.

The 28-year-old Davies spent his first five seasons in Milwaukee, so Bryant and the Cubs knew what the Pirates were dealing with on a sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field.

”It’s crazy, just to see him on our side now. … Just how he quicks he works and the fastball, changeup, cutter and curve, all the pitches for strikes,” Bryant said. ”Going to keep you off balance.”

Pittsburgh played without third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained left wrist. Hayes, one of the preseason favorites for NL Rookie of the Year, got hurt on a swing during Saturday’s 5-1 loss.

Hayes hit a two-run homer during Pittsburgh’s 5-3 victory Thursday but he also is highly regarded for his fielding skills. And his absence was particularly noticeable when Phillip Evans, Hayes’ replacement at third, was unable to stop Javier Baez’s hard-hit grounder in the sixth, allowing Bryant to score and handing the Cubs a 4-2 lead with the error.

”Just one of those in-between hot shots that you get,” Evans said. ”I was hoping it was going to hop up so I could keep it in front of me, but it just stayed down.”

The Pirates pulled within one again on Evans’ RBI single in the eighth, but Rex Brothers got Gregory Polanco to bounce into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners. Craig Kimbrel then worked a perfect ninth for his first save of the season.

”I think Craig’s in a good place,” manager David Ross said. ”He’s throwing strikes. He’s getting good carry on his ball.”

Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller (0-1) lasted just three innings on his 25th birthday. He walked four and was charged with three runs and two hits.

”Just got to attack the zone, fill it up more and get ahead in counts,” Keller said. ”That’s what it comes down to. Just throwing a lot of pitches and getting behind in counts.”

While Keller struggled, Davies (1-0) cruised into the sixth before running into trouble with two out.

After Colin Moran connected for a two-run homer, Evans singled and Polanco walked. Dan Winkler then came in and Michael Perez flied out to the warning track in center, ending the inning.


Utilityman Wilmer Difo was promoted from the taxi squad to replace Hayes on the active roster. Right-hander Tyler Bashlor was designated for assignment to make room for Difo on the Pirates’ 40-man roster.

Pittsburgh also added right-hander Kyle Crick to their active roster and optioned right-hander Wil Crowe to the team’s alternate site. Crick had been away from the team for the birth of his child.


Cubs: C Austin Romine (right knee sprain) is taking batting practice, running the bases and doing other baseball activities. Ross said Romine will go to the team’s alternate site at some point for some at-bats.


Pirates: RHP JT Brubaker starts Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Cincinnati. RHP Jose De Leon pitches for the Reds.

Cubs: RHP Trevor Williams makes his Cubs debut Monday against LHP Brett Anderson and the visiting Milwaukee Brewers. Williams is looking to bounce back this season after he went 2-8 with a 6.18 ERA in 11 starts for Pittsburgh last year.

Jay Cohen can be reached at

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