Top half of lineup produces for Pirates in 4-0 win against Cubs
With Josh Harrison's ankle still hurting Thursday, manager Clint Hurdle decided to give Gregory Polanco a shot at batting leadoff for the Pirates' series finale against the Chicago Cubs.
Following Polanco, who was playing in just his third major league game, were fellow speedy outfielders Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen, which Hurdle admitted made for a pretty fair starting three.
“It looks really good: Polanco, Marte, McCutchen,” Hurdle said before the game. “That's not why we're doing it, but it does look good.”
Polanco was out in a close play at first in the first inning and Marte and McCutchen struck out, but the trio produced a pair of runs in the fifth to help the Pirates take the series with a 4-0 win.
Polanco led off the inning with a hard ground ball straight up the middle past Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (2-6), and Marte followed with a single down the left-field line. McCutchen, who'd already found the North Side notch the inning before for a one-out double, went back there again for a two-run triple.
In what is shaping up to be a monstrous month for McCutchen, the center fielder is now 18 for 42 with 14 RBIs and 15 extra-base hits in 11 games in June.
After he popped up out of his slide, however, McCutchen turned to the dugout, his momentum carried him forward and his foot came off the bag. Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena saw it, tagged him just before he got it back down, and McCutchen was out. Hurdle challenged and lost.
The Pirates built a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Russell Martin hit an RBI double and Jordy Mercer had a sacrifice fly.
Edinson Volquez (4-5) made the lead stand up, pitching seven scoreless innings. It was just the third time a starter went seven innings since Charlie Morton did it on May 18. Volquez allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out five.
The Cubs left five runners on through five innings. They had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but Polanco made sure they stayed where they were after catching a fly ball in right field, then launching the throw home to Martin.
The game started 21 minutes late and featured a rain delay of 74 minutes in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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