Top half of lineup produces for Pirates in 4-0 win against Cubs
With Josh Harrison's ankle still hurting on Thursday, manager Clint Hurdle gave 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 nice looking 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 to open the game and Marte and McCutchen struck out, but the trio produced a pair of runs in the fifth inning to help the Pirates take the series with a 4-0 win.
Polanco led off the inning with a hard ground ball 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 hit.
After he popped up out of his slide, however, McCutchen turned to the dugout in the beginnings of a celebration. His momentum carried him forward and his foot came off the bag. Luis Valbuena tagged him just before McCutchen got it back down for the out. Hurdle challenged and lost and the hit was ruled a double.
“I guess that's why they say stay humble in this game because crazy stuff like that happens,” McCutchen said. “Popping up, get all excited, next thing you know I'm floating over the bag and his glove's right there. I'll try and stay on the bag next time.”
June is shaping up to be a monstrous month for McCutchen, who is now 18 for 42 with 14 RBI and 15 extra-base hits in 11 games.
Catcher Russell Martin also had another big night, going 2 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI in the fourth inning, when the Pirates scored their first two runs.
They didn't need any more with Edinson Volquez (4-5) pitching seven scoreless innings. He allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out five.
“I think I just did what I was supposed to do, go and compete with Samardzija,” Volquez said. “He's one of the top guys in the National League. It was a good performance.”
The Cubs left eight on base. They had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but Polanco made sure they stayed there after catching a fly ball in right field and then launching it home to Martin.
“He threw that about 65 percent, that was nothing,” McCutchen said. “I've seen him throw a lot harder than that. That was just a little bit.”
The game started 21 minutes late because of rain and featured a delay of 74 minutes in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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