Lester (10-8) gave up four hits, with three strikeouts and five walks. He and relievers Tyler Chatwood and rookie Rowan Wick – who each allowed no hits – combined for the shutout, with Wick getting the final three outs for his first career save.
Bryant’s homer helped make up for two earlier errors he made at third base that forced Lester to work out of jams.
The Pirates had won three of their previous four games.
Pittsburgh starter Steven Brault (3-2) had the longest outing of his career, seven innings, and they were strong. He struck out eight, walked one and allowed just two hits, one of them Bryant’s homer.
The Pirates kept threatening but couldn’t get a run across the plate.
In the first, they loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single.
In the fifth, they loaded the bases with no outs, aided by Bryant’s throwing error.
In the sixth, a fielding error by Bryant helped Pittsburgh get two on with one out and eventually a runner to third.
But those threats were fruitless, and Bryant led off the seventh with his 25th homer, a shot that just cleared the fence in left. That gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead and was just the second hit allowed by Brault.
Pittsburgh loaded the bases again in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs, but Chatwood, who relieved Lester after the first two batters reached, got out of it.
In the eighth, against Pirates reliever Michael Feliz, Ian Happ opened with a single and went to third on Jonathan Lucroy’s single. Happ scored when catcher Elias Diaz’s attempted pickoff throw toward third sailed into left field, making it 2-0.
Chicago had suffered walkoff losses its previous two games, but was able to put down the Pirates in the ninth despite Chatwood issuing a four-pitch walk to Adam Frazier to start the inning. Wick replaced Chatwood and retired the next three batters on groundouts.
–Field Level Media