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McCutchen, Pirates knock off Cubs after storm-delayed start

| Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 11:48 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen watches his two-run homer during the first inning against the Cubs Wednesday, June, 11, 2014, at PNC Park.

At times Wednesday night, the Pirates seemed to be fighting themselves. They had a handful of brain cramps and baserunning gaffes, 10 runners stranded and another injury to add to an already long list.

However, there also were plenty of things that went right for the Pirates. Brandon Cumpton tossed five solid innings. Andrew McCutchen continued to binge on extra-base hits. Gregory Polanco got his first RBI. Jordy Mercer collected three hits.

The good outweighed the bad as the Pirates pulled out a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Josh Harrison left the game in the third inning due to what the team said was discomfort in his left ankle. Harrison, who was noticeably limping, also was hit by a pitch on the left hand.

“It hurt,” said Harrison, who rolled the ankle when he quickly changed direction on the basepath in the first inning. “We'll see how it feels (Thursday).”

Harrison started at second base in place of Neil Walker, who's on the 15-day disabled list after having an appendectomy.

In the first inning, Cubs starter Josh Hammel (6-4) walked Harrison on four pitches. With one out, McCutchen punched a fastball into the left-field seats. Outfielder Chris Coghlan leaned over the low wall and nearly caught it, but a fan knocked it out of his glove.

“If (Coghlan) had caught it, I wouldn't have been mad,” McCutchen said. “I would've been impressed.”

In his past 10 games, McCutchen has clubbed 13 extra-base hits — seven doubles and six home runs. It is the most by a Pirate in a 10-game span since Barry Bonds in 1988.

“It's been my plan all along,” McCutchen said. “Get myself ready to hit and not miss the pitch when they give it to me.”

The two-run shot was McCutchen's 10th of the season and ended two streaks for Hammel: 14 innings without allowing a run and 51 23 innings without giving up a homer.

The lead did not last long. The Cubs started the second inning with a single, a walk, another single and a run-scoring ground out to tie it 2-2.

In the bottom of the inning, Mercer doubled, Cumpton rolled his first major league hit into shallow right field and Harrison's left hand was grazed by a pitch. Polanco grounded out, scoring Mercer.

McCutchen was intentionally walked, giving Ike Davis, who leads the NL with 13 RBIs with the bases loaded, a chance to do some major damage. Davis went down swinging.

Pedro Alvarez tripled with one out in the third. He scored on Starling Marte's single.

Cumpton (2-2) escaped a couple of jams en route to his second straight win. In the third, he got Nate Schierholtz to fly out with two outs and runners on second and third. In the fifth, with the bases loaded, Schierholtz whiffed on a slider in the dirt to end the inning.

“It was a huge confidence-builder for me,” Cumpton said. “In the fifth, I threw him a first-pitch changeup, then a fastball in and a slider to get him to chase. I threw him the whole kitchen sink right there.”

That was the last batter Cumpton faced. He went five innings and allowed two runs on five hits, walked two and struck out five.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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