The Cubs were in need of a strong outing by a starter, and Jose Quintana delivered.
The left-hander struck out 11 in seven innings of four-hit ball as Chicago blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-0 on Thursday night.
Quintana (1-1) bounced back after being roughed up for eight runs and eight hits in three innings against Milwaukee during his first start of the season last Friday. It was the longest outing by a Chicago starter this season.
“That’s as good as we’ve seen him,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “That was dominant. Strikeouts, strike throwing. Everything was working.
“He was outstanding, and we needed that.”
Daniel Descalso and Victor Caratini each had two hits and an RBI in a game that was delayed 69 minutes by rain before the eighth inning.
Caratini left after the delay and X-rays indicate the backup catcher might have a broken hamate bone in his left hand. He believes he was injured on a swing, and a CT scan is scheduled for Friday.
“It’s definitely frustrating, especially because I started out the season the way I wanted to,” Caratini said through a translator.
Steve Cishek pitched the eighth and Pedro Strop got three outs for his first save. The Cubs took two of three in their first home series after opening with a 2-7 road trip.
Pirates starter Joe Musgrove (1-1) allowed two unearned runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
“I think the biggest downfall for me was that third time around the lineup, getting behind a lot of hitters,” Musgrove said. “You get behind guys like that, especially the third time around, they know what I like to go to, what’s working for me all game long, so I’m kind of exposed a little bit.”
Because of severe storms predicted to move into the area late Thursday night, the Cubs pushed up the start of the game a half hour. The rain began as Chicago rallied for both runs in the seventh.
With one out, Jason Heyward lifted a pop fly to shallow left field and the strong right-to-left wind blew the ball toward the line. Because of a defensive shift, no Pittsburgh fielder had a clear shot at it. Three players converged and the ball hit off the glove of third baseman Jung Ho Kang in fair territory and fell in.
The play originally was called a double, but was quickly changed to an error on shortstop Erik Gonzalez.
Descalso followed with a single to drive in Heyward for the game’s first run. Descalso went to second on the throw to the plate and scored when the next batter, Caratini, doubled to right-center against Francisco Liriano.
By that point, a steady rain had begun. Shortly after the seventh inning ended, a bolt of lightning flashed in the distance beyond center field and the umpires stopped play.
Maddon was ejected in the bottom of the fifth by plate umpire Mike Estabrook for arguing balls and strikes.
With runners on first and second and one out, Caratini took a low breaking ball on a 3-1 pitch for a strike. After hearing complaints from the Cubs dugout, Estabrook took a few steps down the third base line and held up a hand, essentially saying that was enough.
Maddon walked out and slowly made his way to the home plate area. He was ejected almost immediately after speaking to Estabrook.
Cubs: If the hamate bone in Caratini’s left hand is broken, the fear is surgery could be required and he’d be sidelined four to six weeks. Oddly, Caratini was injured on the first pitch of his at-bat in the seventh. “The first swing I felt a crack, but I felt hot so I kept going,” he said. “Once I got to second base and I took my glove off, I could tell there was something wrong.”
Pirates: INF Kevin Kramer was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to take the roster spot of SS Kevin Newman, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a lacerated finger on his right hand.
Cubs: RHP Jen-Ho Tseng was released. The 24-year-old from Taiwan had been designated for assignment Saturday.
Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (1-0, 2.25 ERA) takes the mound Friday night in the opener of a three-game series at Washington. LHP Patrick Corbin (0-0, 3.75) starts for the Nationals.
Cubs: LHP Cole Hamels (1-0, 5.73 ERA) pitches the opener of a three-game home series against the Angles on Friday afternoon. LHP Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 2.45) goes for Los Angeles.
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