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Christopher Morel hits RBI single in the 9th to give Cubs a 1-0 win over Pirates

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CHICAGO (AP) -- Christopher Morel singled in Cody Bellinger with one out in the ninth to give the Chicago Cubs a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

Bellinger got the winning rally started with a ground-rule double down the left-field line with one out off David Bednar. Morel then cracked a 3-2 pitch up the middle, and Bellinger narrowly beat Michael A. Taylor's throw to the plate on a play that withstood a video review.

Hector Neris (4-0) tossed a perfect ninth, striking out two, for the win.

Cubs starter Shota Imanaga tossed seven scoreless innings of four-hit ball in his third straight no-decision. The 30-year-old left-hander from Japan struck out seven and walked one as he threw 68 of 88 pitches for strikes.

Mark Leiter Jr. followed with a perfect eighth, striking out the side.

Pittsburgh's Bailey Falter pitched scoreless, three-hit ball through 7 2/3 innings, the longest outing of his career. The 27-year-old left-hander struck out two and walked two, throwing 55 of 83 pitches for strikes.

Colin Holderman relieved with two outs and two runners on in the eighth. After walking pinch-hitter Michael Busch to load the bases, Holderman struck out Patrick Wisdom to end Chicago's threat.

Bednar (2-3) took the loss.

The Cubs traded left-handed reliever Richard Lovelady to the Tampa Bay Rays for minor-league lefty Jeff Belge before the game.

Lovelady, 28, pitched in seven games for the Cubs this season, going 0-1 with a 7.94 ERA before being designated for assignment on Tuesday. The 26-year-old Belge was at Double-A Montgomery of the Southern League and has never appeared in the majors.


Cubs: Manager Craig Counsell said 2B Nico Hoerner (left hamstring) is improving and could be ready to return in the next few days. … SS Dansby Swanson (right knee sprain) "is headed in a good direction," Counsell said and could come off the IL this week. The two-time All-Star was eligible on Saturday. … LH Drew Smyly (right hip impingement) could be sent on a rehab assignment to High-A South Bend next week. … LHP Jordan Wicks (forearm strain) will throw another bullpen session, then likely go on a rehab assignment.


Pirates RHP Mitch Keller (4-3, 3.93) faces Cubs RHP Jameson Taillon (3-1, 1.61) in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.



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