Chicago, IL – Cody Ransom hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 4-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates and avert a sweep of the three-game set from Wrigley Field.
Ransom also scored Chicago's first run of the day in the sixth inning, and his blast off Justin Wilson (5-1) enabled Edwin Jackson to record only his second win of the year after the struggling veteran turned in one of his best performances in a Cubs uniform.
Jackson (2-8) held Pittsburgh to a run on four hits while striking out eight over a season-high seven innings of work. He came into Sunday's matchup 0-5 with a 7.83 ERA in six home starts on the season.
"I told myself, 'just come out and have fun'", said Jackson. "Stay relaxed, stay loose and just play the game. Sometimes we take the game too serious and you're kind of confined in a bubble. Today I was able to come out of that bubble."
Counterpart Jeff Locke took a no-hitter into the sixth and allowed just one hit over 5 2/3 frames, but walked seven batters and exited with the game tied at 1-1.
The Pirates managed just six hits and were denied their first three-game sweep at Wrigley since 2000. Garrett Jones finished 2-for-4 and drove in the team's lone run with a fourth-inning single.
After being limited to three runs by Pittsburgh pitching over the first 24 innings of this series, Chicago's offense finally broke out with the game knotted at 1-1 in the seventh.
Ryan Sweeney and Darwin Barney each singled off Wilson to put two on with one out for Ransom, who drove the left-hander's fastball into the bleachers in left to break the stalemate.
The Cubs had gone 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position for the series prior to the homer.
Pittsburgh failed to seriously threaten against the Chicago bullpen over the latter stages, with Carlos Marmol tossing a 1-2-3 eighth in relief of Jackson. Jones doubled off Kevin Gregg with two outs in the ninth, but the Cubs closer struck out Russell Martin to nail down his seventh save of the season.
Jackson had posted a lackluster 7.04 ERA in losing his previous three assignments, but was sharp right from the outset on Sunday. The veteran righty began the game with two perfect innings and had allowed just two baserunners until being touched for a run in the fourth.
Andrew McCutchen started the inning with a deep double to left and Jones followed with a liner up the middle to put Pittsburgh ahead by a 1-0 count.
Jackson didn't surrender a hit after that point, finishing his stint by setting down 11 of the last 12 Pirate hitters he faced.
Locke, meanwhile, was bidding for a no-hitter deep into the game despite his shaky control, but ultimately lost the lead after serving up his sixth and seventh free passes of the afternoon in the bottom of the sixth.
He walked Ransom on four pitches to open Chicago's half of the inning, with the Cubs third baseman alertly hustling all the way to third when Anthony Rizzo followed with a grounder to second. Two batters later, Scott Hairston lofted a fly ball to center that knotted the score at 1-1.
Dioner Navarro singled after Hairston's sac fly to end Locke's no-hit attempt.
"I didn't really know I didn't give up any hits, because there was someone on base every inning," said Locke. "I was pitching from the stretch no matter what."
Jones has now hit safely in 11 straight games at Wrigley Field, batting .368 (14-for-38) over that stretch ... McCutchen ended 2-for-3 in the loss, while Navarro went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks for the Cubs ... Locke recorded his 10th consecutive start of holding the opposition to three earned runs or less ... The Cubs halted a four-game home losing streak and had dropped five of six overall coming in.