By Sarah Trotto
April 16, 2017
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Jameson Taillon (1-0, 0.90 ERA) delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Sunday, April 16, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
CHICAGO (AP) -- For the first time in a while, the Pittsburgh Pirates enjoyed their visit to Wrigley Field.
Adam Frazier hit a clinching home run as the Pirates scored six times in the final two innings to beat the Chicago Cubs 6-1 Sunday for a three-game sweep of the World Series champions.
''We came in struggling. It was big for us to get these three wins,'' Frazier said.
The Pirates went 4-14 against the Cubs last season, including 1-8 in Chicago. Their previous three-game sweep at the ballpark was in September 2014.
''It was important for us to come here and play good baseball,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We didn't play well here last year. They played really well.''
Jameson Taillon (1-0) allowed an unearned run and struck out six in seven innings. Cubs starter Jon Lester pitched three-hit ball for seven innings and left with a 1-0 lead.
The Pirates scored three times in the eighth off Koji Uehara (0-1), getting the go-ahead run when pinch runner Alec Hanson slid home on Andrew McCutchen's bases-loaded grounder - a replay review upheld the call that catcher Willson Contreras was barely off the plate when he caught first baseman Anthony Rizzo's throw on an attempted force play.
''That's been more of our problem than anything, not getting a clutch hit and holding a lead at the end of the game,'' Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Frazier hit a three-run homer in the ninth.
Tommy La Stella's pinch-hit double off Frazier's glove in left field put the Cubs ahead in the seventh. Chicago loaded the bases on a walk before Taillon got Rizzo to pop out to end the inning.
Taillon has given up three runs in 20 innings. Last season, he had the second-lowest ERA (3.38) among NL rookie starters.
''Just a fantastic effort,'' Hurdle said. ''He came out focused and came out determined. He elevated the ball really well today, more so than probably in the past. The changeup and curveball were difference makers.''
The Pirates entered the series having lost four straight.
''We've played some pretty bad baseball against the Reds,'' Taillon said. ''We knew we were better than that. To be able to answer, come in here and beat a great team that we respect a great amount that speaks a lot for the character in this club.''
Pittsburgh has either swept or been swept in every series this season.
''They're probably the best competition in our division, and they proved it this last series,'' Cubs right fielder Ben Zobrist said.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Cubs were swept in a three-game series just once last season: June 20-22 by the Cardinals.
The Cubs have blown a save opportunity in three consecutive games for the first time since May 2000 against the Brewers. Chicago relievers allowed 12 runs and three home runs in 9 1/3 innings versus the Pirates.
''We just have to do a better job at the end of the game protecting leads. That's all,'' Maddon said.
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco (right groin discomfort) was scratched from Saturday's lineup and was held out again Sunday. ''I believe he needs another day,'' Hurdle said. Frazier started in his place.
Cubs: Maddon said he had no update on RHP Carl Edwards Jr., who went on the bereavement list Friday.
Pirates: RHP Ivan Nova (1-1, 2.25 ERA) will start against the Cardinals and RHP Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.23) to begin a three-game series Monday in St. Louis.