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Kuhl goes 7 sharp innings, Pirates beat slumping Cubs 7-0

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Pittsburgh Pirates outfielders, from left, Jared Oliva, Bryan Reynolds and Gregory Polanco (25) celebrate the final out of a 7-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

PITTSBURGH – Chad Kuhl pitched seven sharp innings and Colin Moran and Bryan Reynolds each homered in three-hit games in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 7-0 victory over the slumping Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

Kuhl (2-3) retired the first nine batters and had a no-hitter until Anthony Rizzo doubled to the wall in right-center with one out in the sixth inning.

The right-hander finished his comeback season on a strong note. He allowed two hits, struck out five hits and gave up three walks. He sat out last season while rehabbing after Tommy John surgery.

“If felt great,” Kuhl said. “Obviously, you want to finish strong, and it just worked out. I think in just a short time this season I was able to make strides with everything, mound presence and stuff like that, that has not always been great.”

The Cubs, who clinched a postseason berth Tuesday, are stumbling toward the playoffs with five losses in six games. They have scored two or fewer runs in each of the five defeats.

Chicago’s magic number for clinching the NL Central remained two with three days left in the regular season. The Cubs’ only other hit was Jason Kipnis’ double in the seventh.

“I’d prefer to flush this one, to be honest with you. Throw it in the trash and start again tomorrow,” manager David Ross said. “It (stinks) right now that we’re not playing really well but we have to come back tomorrow with our lunch pail and go to work. Our guys have done a good job of that all year.”

Right fielder Jason Heyward said the Cubs are not feeling any angst over their late-season struggles. Chicago concludes its regular season this weekend with a three-game series at the crosstown White Sox, which begins Friday night.