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Sweep-deprived: Cubs lose 8-1 to Pirates

Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole shut down the Cubs for six innings Wednesday to prevent the Cubs from sweeping the Pirates and keeping pace with the first-place Cardinals.

Cole had eight strikeouts and didn’t allow an earned run to beat the Cubs 8-1 at Wrigley Field, snapping the Cubs’ four-game win streak.

With the loss, the Cubs’ finished April 12-8 as they head into a scheduled off day Thursday. It’s their first winning April since their last playoff season, 2008.

Even after the loss, Maddon was pleased with the opening month.

Before the game, he said he likes the Cubs chances of continuing to win. They open a three-game series Friday against the last-place Milwaukee Brewers.

“Listen, if we can continues – and I believe that we can – to come out with the mental acuity on a nightly basis and with the desire to play the game properly, we can definitely maintain this stuff,” he said. “Because we have good athletes, who are good baseball players. They’re young.

“Now it’s just a matter of us being able to ferociously repeat fundamentals on a daily basis.”

Cole (4-0) faced the minimum through six innings after the first two batters of the second inning reached base.

The Cubs’ only run – which was unearned – came in that inning when Kris Bryant led off with a walk, took second on first baseman Pedro Alvarez’s error on a pickoff attempt, then scored on Miguel Montero’s single.

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (five innings, five hits) and three relievers combined to allow a season-high 14 hits.

That included a two-run triple and a single by Pirates star Andrew McCutchen in his final two at-bats – after he’d gone just 3-for-23 against the Cubs this season before that.

The triple was seventh-year big-leaguer McCutchen’s 1,000th career hit.