Gerrit Cole shuts down Cubs again after last year's trash talk


The last time Gerrit Cole faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field, he shut them out for eight innings then promptly backed up his play by stating the Cubs are not the best team in baseball.

That was 11 months ago - May 15, 2016 to be exact - and it's not like the Cubs (6-4) had that statement printed out and tacked up on bulletin boards throughout the clubhouse before facing Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates (4-6) Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Cole wasn't exactly dominant but allowed only two runs in six innings to beat the Cubs once again 4-2 in front of 40,430 fans to kick off the first weekend series of the season at "The Friendly Confines."

Even if the Cubs didn't use Cole's 11-month-old comments as fuel for Friday's game, it's not as if they forgot his bold statement, even after a World Series championship.

"That's fine," Joe Maddon said before the game when asked about Cole's comments. "I'm sure there's certain things I'm not sure of, either. I try to refrain from actually saying them out loud, though."

The Cubs' resume obviously speaks for itself as they proved Cole wrong by finishing 2016 with 103 victories en route to a wild World Series run that ended in the greatest baseball game ever played.

But Cole - the pitcher the Cubs beat in the one-game wild-card playoff in October 2015 - acted as a true ace for his team Friday, halting a four-game losing streak and keeping a powerful Cubs lineup at bay just enough to let the rest of his team come through against Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs bullpen.

After Kyle Schwarber broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the fifth, the Pirates strung together three straight hits to re-tie the score in the sixth and chase Hendricks from the game. Two batters later, the pesky Francisco Cervelli lined a double to right-center to make it 4-2.

The Cubs threatened in the eighth when Kris Bryant walked and Anthony Rizzo was plunked to lead off the inning. But Ben Zobrist struck out on the 10th pitch of his at-bat against Felipe Rivero and Addison Russell lined out to center. Jason Heyward reached on an infield single before Willson Contreras grounded out to end the inning.

The Cubs put together another rally in the ninth with two outs when Schwarber walked, Bryant reached on an error and Rizzo was hit again. But Zobrist grounded to short to end the afternoon. 

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