CHICAGO — Manager John Russell figured it was just a matter of time before Brad Lincoln busted loose.
“He’s been building to this,” Russell said Wednesday, after Lincoln blanked the Cubs for seven innings in a 2-0 victory, the first of the right-hander’s career.
“It gets that monkey off my back,” Lincoln said. “Now I can just go out there, relax and be who I am. I don’t have to worry about anything that goes on around me.”
Lincoln has made five starts. The last three have been quality starts, which has lowered his ERA nearly three points to 4.65.
“He’s gotten a lot more comfortable,” Russell said. “He’s starting to trust what he can do. He’s gotten into that good rhythm now where he believes in what he’s doing.”
• Garrett Jones collected his team-leading eighth game-winning RBI — one more than he had last season.
In the eighth inning, Jones drove a fastball from Andrew Cashner to center field for a double. Andy LaRoche, who’d reached on an error, scored.
“(Cashner) throws hard,” Jones said. “I just wanted to be on time and not miss it. It was down and a little bit away, but I got the good part of the bat on it.”
It’s the kind of hit that has eluded the Pirates for most of June, when they went 6-20.
“We’ve been waiting on that big hit,” Russell said. “Today, Garrett came up with it.”
• The Pirates took two of three against the Cubs — just their third winning series out of 13 on the road this season. The Pirates are 9-3 against Chicago with three more games still to play.
“They haven’t been swinging the bats like they’re capable, but we’ll take it,” Russell said. “We’ve played some other teams tough and have not found a way to win. We’ve found a way against these guys. Hopefully, that will continue.”
• I’ve gotta admit, it’s kind of fun to sit here in the Wrigley Field press box and listen to a radio guy in the back row tell his audience that the big-payroll Cubs will be sellers at the trade deadline and that “anybody could go.” Geez, isn’t that line usually attached to the Pirates this time of year? A refreshing change, maybe.