CHICAGO (AP) — Rookie Alexander Canario hit a grand slam for his first major league home run in an eight-run eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs ended a five-game losing streak with a 14-1 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Cody Bellinger hit a three-run homer later in the eighth for the Cubs, who are a half-game ahead of Miami for the final NL wild card, with Cincinnati one game behind Chicago.
“It was just nice to take a breath,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “You had to feel good, all the way around. Just relentless all night and we piled it on at the end.”
Canario, a 23-year-old who debuted on Sept. 6, had five RBIs. He hit an RBI double in the sixth for his first big league hit and drove a hanging slider from into the left-field bleachers for a 10-1 lead against Kyle Nicolas.
Chicago teammate Christopher Morel was so filled with emotion he pulled off his own jersey in the Cubs dugout.
“It's incredible, it's surreal,” Canario said through a translator. “It's something I've always dreamed of, especially with the bases loaded.”
Although he had been called up nearly two weeks ago, Canario had only one plate appearance before Tuesday. His double came in his fourth at-bat, the slam in his fifth.
“I was always ready for the moment,” Canario said. “Just to be able to contribute to the team overall and just to be able to contribute with such a big moment into the score in the game like that.”
Nicolas, a 24-year-old right-hander, gave up six runs while getting one out in his debut for a 162.00 career ERA.
Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki also homered for the Cubs, and Suzuki had three of Chicago's 12 hits. The Cubs are 10-1 against the Pirates this season.
“They've given us trouble,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “Throughout the year, we've missed in the middle of the plate a ton to them and they've done damage.”
In a game that started after a 1-hour, 25-minute rain delay, Javier Assad (4-3) allowed one run and five hits in five innings with eight strikeouts. Drew Smyly, José Cuas, Mark Leiter, Jr. and Luke Little finished a five-hitter.
Pirates batters struck out 16 times, one shy of their season high.
Pittsburgh’s Bailey Falter (2-9) allowed Swanson's 21st homer and was replaced in the second by Quinn Priester, who gave up four runs and five hits in six innings
Ke’Bryan Hayes hit a solo homer for Pittsburgh (70-81), which was assured its fifth consecutive season without a winning record.
ON THE BALL
Canario got the home run ball from the fan who it in exchange for a bat and a bag of licensed merchandise.
Pittsburgh selected the contract of Nicolas from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game and optioned RHP Thomas Hatch.
Pirates: DH/OF Andrew McCutchen (partially torn left Achilles) was transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list.
Cubs: INF Nick Madrigal was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Sunday with a right hamstring strain, and INF Jared Young was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Madrigal missed most of July with a similar injury. ... RHP Adbert Alzolay (right forearm strain) played long-toss on Tuesday. … RHP’s Brandon Hughes (right knee inflammation) and Nick Burdi (appendectomy) were set to continue rehab assignments at Triple-A Iowa.
Pirates ARHP Mitch Keller (12-9, 4.04) faces Cubs LHP Justin Steele (16-4, 2.73) on Wednesday in a matchup of All-Stars. Steele allowed six runs in seven innings in a 6-4 loss at Arizona on Friday.
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