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Cubs’ Jose Quintana pitches like ace in Lester’s absence; Caratini headed to IL

Jose Quintana on Thursday night.

Hoping to avoid the worst of a storm system forecast to rage all night over Wrigley Field, the Cubs moved up the game time by a half-hour Thursday.

And it worked.

Sort of.

Behind the dominant pitching of starter Jose Quintana and a two-run seventh inning, the Cubs beat the rain to take the lead before waiting out a 69-minute delay.

They eventually beat the Pirates 2-0 for their first series victory in four tries.

But then after it rained, it poured.

Backup catcher Victor Caratini, who doubled home a run in the key seventh inning, suffered what X-rays suggested was a broken hamate bone in his left hand on the first swing of that at-bat, and he said he was told he might miss three to four weeks. The typical timeline, however, can be closer to six weeks.

Because the Cubs’ payroll limitations hampered their efforts to add needed catching depth during the winter, their best option on the 40-man roster is journeyman minor-leaguer Taylor Davis, who is expected to get called up for the series opener Friday against the Angels.

“It’s not easy, and it’s definitely frustrating,” Caratini said, “especially how I had started out the season the way I really was hoping to. Unfortunately, those are things I can’t control, but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to bounce back.”

Caratini was scheduled to have a more conclusive scan on the hand Friday. If the original diagnosis is confirmed, arthroscopic surgery is required to remove the hook of the hamate.

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Even in limited time, Caratini had been one of the team’s most productive hitters, going 8-for-14 with four extra-base hits and three walks.

‘‘This kid’s playing as good as he can play,” manager Joe Maddon said.

Caratini’s the second player to go on the injured list in three days, joining ace Jon Lester (hamstring).

On one hand, the injuries are early enough in the season to expect full recoveries for both with most of the season left.

On the other hand, the timing looks especially bad for a team that already had pitching and catching depth issues as it tries to fight out of an early two-week hole.

That’s where Quintana came in on this night. He struck out 11, walked one and allowed only four singles in seven innings for the win.

“That was as good as we’ve seen him,” said Maddon, who got to see the last two innings of Quintana’s outing on his office TV after getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth.

“We talked about that [2017 Cubs debut] start against Baltimore,” Maddon said, “and maybe a time or two against Milwaukee, but that was dominant, and we needed it.”

Quintana (1-1), who showcased a newly refined changeup that made the rest of his pitches even better, struck out the first three batters of the game and had only one runner get past first base the entire start.

With Lester out, “You know the guys are going to want to pick all that up, absolutely,” Maddon said. “We need that. . . . It could be contagious, no question.”

Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop made quick enough work of the Pirates to retire six of seven, with Strop earning the Cubs’ first save of the season. The bullpen hasn’t been charged with a run since Saturday, a streak of 17‰ scoreless innings (albeit, two inherited runners scored Wednesday).

That doesn’t hurt the effort to weather the storm without Lester.

“It’s tough,’’ Quintana said. ‘‘We know how important Jon is for the rotation. I hope he’ll be coming back quickly. Right now, we’ll try to have his back.”