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Pirates beat Cubs, 4-2, to finish homestand with sweep

| Thursday, May 23, 2013, 5:54 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen scores past Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo during the first inning Thursday May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Members of the PNC Park grounds crew cover the field,as a storm begins during the Pirates game against the Cubs on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at the ballpark on the North Shore.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Members of the PNC Park grounds crew cover the field, as a storm begins during the Pirates game against the Cubs Thursday, May 23, 2013.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher Jeanmar Gomez throws against the Cubs during the third inning Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates right fielder Travis Snider signals the dugout after driving in a run with a triple next to Cubs third baseman Luis Valbuena during the second inning Thursday May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen drives in Travis Snider in front of Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo during the second inning Thursday May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen scores past Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo during the first inning Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte scores past Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo during the first inning Thursday May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez battles fans for a foul ball during the first inning against the Cubs on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes tags out the Cub's Starlin Castro at second base on a strong throw from right fielder Travis Snider on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen makes a run-saving, sliding catch during the seventh inning against the Cubs on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen steals second base ahead of the tag by Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen reacts after making a run-saving, sliding catch during the seventh inning against the Cubs on Thursday, May 23, 2013, at PNC Park.

Travis Snider's run-scoring triple in the second inning Thursday was clutch, but it was the finishing touch the right fielder put on the head-first slide into third base that made it even more memorable.

Snider was still face down when he lifted his arms toward the Pirates' dugout and flashed the Zoltan “Z.” Andrew McCutchen drove him in on the next at-bat, the second of three hits for the center fielder, and the Pirates held on after a long rain delay to sweep the Chicago Cubs with a 4-2 win.

“At that point, you run a long ways, you don't really feel like getting up right away, so I figured I'd just get it out of the way before I got to my feet,” said Snider, who also made a nice throw to catch Starlin Castro trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double in the sixth. “I needed a breath, a moment to gather myself, and luckily Cutch hit a nice little single so I could just walk home.”

After the game, Snider and his teammates slipped on Penguins jerseys waiting for them at their lockers and boarded the bus to the airport to depart on a five-game road trip to Milwaukee (three games) and Detroit (two games).

It's easy to joke and have fun when a team's doing well, and the Pirates are playing incredibly well at the moment. The win was their fourth in a row, 11th out of their last 13 and put them a season-high 11 games over .500. Since losing the first two series of the season, including the opener against the Cubs, they are 10-2-2 in their last 14 series.

Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez had his fifth start cut short by the nearly two-hour rain delay, but gave the Pirates what they needed in his 3 23 innings, allowing one run on three hits.

McCutchen stole two bases and was 3 for 4 with two RBI, and Starling Marte was 2 for 3 with a stolen base. Jason Grilli struck out two in his major league-leading 19th save, and Vin Mazzaro (3-0), who came in after the delay, pitched a scoreless 2 13 innings.

“You always want to be prepared because you never know what's going to happen or how long the rain delay's going to be,” Mazzaro said. “Just stick through it and try to stay focused and keep the same mentality as if the game was going on.”

Right-hander Edwin Jackson (1-7) started for the Cubs, who have lost four in a row. Jackson's only win this season came May 11 at Washington, and the Pirates set about making sure he didn't get No. 2 in the first inning. Marte hit a leadoff single and stole second. McCutchen drove him in with a one-out single to left field. Michael McKenry singled to left with two outs, and McCutchen scored for a 2-0 lead.

McCutchen went 13 for 38 during the 10-game homestand and is 26 for 75 (.346) in May after batting .247 (24 for 97) in April.

“I've been seeing the ball well this whole month,” McCutchen said.

“I can't think about the results. All I can do is worry about the preparation, focus on that and prepare myself to be ready.”

Marte once again got things going in the second with a two-out single that hit Jackson and rolled toward third base. Snider tripled to the North Side Notch in the next at-bat.

The Cubs scored one run in the fourth before rain delayed the game, and when it resumed after 1:47, Mazzaro inherited runners on first and third with two outs. He needed just two pitches to record the final out.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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