CHICAGO -- The second half of the season had been going so well for Erik Bedard.
But progress turned putrid Monday at Wrigley Field.
Bedard was clubbed by the Cubs, who tagged the Pirates' left-handed for a season-high nine runs, eight earned, in a 14-4 rout.
It was the 12th loss of the season for Bedard, the most in the major leagues.
A pair of three-run home runs sunk Bedard, who left the game after 4 1/3 innings, having surrendered seven hits. The first three-run blast gave the Cubs a two-run lead in the fourth inning. The second put the game out of reach.
Bedard had not allowed a home run since the All-Star break and had allowed two earned runs over 13 2/3 in two starts since.
The Cubs scored nine runs in the fifth inning, including four off Pirates reliever Chris Resop, who served up a two-run homer to Starlin Castro as the Cubs surged ahead, 13-2.
The fifth inning featured 12 Cubs batters, eight hits and a fielding error by Pedro Alvarez that got the whole inning started. Emblematic of how bad things were going for the Pirates, a ground ball hit by David DeJesus down the right-field line that would have been the third out bounced off first base and rolled into right field, allowing two runs to score.
It also featured a trade, as the Cubs' starting centerfielder, Reed Johnson, was pulled from the on-deck circle about an hour before it was announced he was traded to the Braves, along with former Pirate Paul Maholm.
Fittingly, Johnson was the only starting position player who didn't have a hit against the Pirates on Monday.
Later in the game, the Cubs traded starting catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers.
Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs slugging rookie, cranked his eighth home run in 28 games this season -- the second of Bedard's home run balls.
The eight earned runs are the second most allowed by a Pirate starter this season, second only to A.J. Burnett's 12-run outing against the St. Louis Cardinals in May.
Pirates rookie Starling Marte went 3 for 4 with an RBI, boosting his average to .318. He entered the game -- the fifth of his major league career -- with a .222 average.
Chicago starter Justin Germano earned the win, allowing two earned runs on four hits in five innings. It was his first win in three starts this season.
Darwin Barney gave the Cubs a two-run lead in the fourth inning when he smoked a three-run homer over the ivy in left field. Facing a 2-2 count, Barney blasted Bedard's 92-mph fastball about 10 rows into the bleachers as the Cubs claimed a 4-2 lead.
The Cubs never relinquished that lead.
The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning. Andrew McCutchen drew a leadoff walk, and Garrett Jones followed with a high-bouncing infield single that put runners on first and second with no outs. But McCutchen was the only Pirate to score in the inning.
Neil Walker grounded out to shortstop after Starlin Castro made a diving stop, holding McCutchen at third. After a Pedro Alvarez walk, Michael McKenry grounded into a fielder's choice, scoring McCutchen, and Clint Barmes popped out to second to end the inning.
Germano held the Pirates hitless until Barmes singled through the right side of the infield with one out in the third inning. After Bedard sacrificed Barmes to second with a bunt, Starling Marte singled down the left-field line to drive him in and tie the score, 1-1.
Germano had struck out three of the first seven batters he faced.
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, capitalizing on a bad bounce for the Pirates. Literally.
Bedard struck out Johnson, the leadoff batter, but the curveball that Johnson swung at for strike three hit the edge of the plate and took a weird bounce. The ball rolled away from McKenry, allowing Johnson to take first base.
Castro doubled off the left-field wall two pitches later to score Johnson.
Michael Sanserino: email@example.com, 412-263-1722 or on Twitter @msanserino. First Published July 31, 2012 3:45 AM