PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen had two doubles and two RBIs to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-0 victory over the Cubs on Thursday night.
Russell Martin also doubled twice for the Pirates and rookie Gregory Polanco got a hit in the third straight game since his call-up. Edinson Volquez (4-5) pitched seven effective innings to win for the third time in his last five starts.
McCutchen, the reigning National League MVP, broke it open with a two-run double in the fifth off Jeff Samardzija (2-6). McCutchen is batting .428 (18 of 42) with 15 extra-base hits in June. The Pirates had seven doubles in all, their highest total since a win over Houston in July 2010.
Luis Valbuena had two doubles for the Cubs, who went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position to fall for the fourth time in five games. The Cubs have scored two runs or fewer in nine of Samardzija's 14 starts.
The Cubs' troubles weren't just on offense on a night the worst road team in baseball fell to 0-9-3 in series played away from Wrigley Field this year. Samardzija struggled against a team that seems to be rounding into form behind its star center fielder.
McCutchen extended his hitting streak to eight straight by doubling with one out in the fourth before coming around to score when Martin smacked a ball off the wall in right field. Ike Davis scored two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Pittsburgh made it 4-0 in the fifth when Polanco – batting leadoff for the first time – and Starling Marte hit consecutive singles followed by drive by McCutchen to the notch in left-center. McCutchen slid into the third on the play before making a rare mental miscue when he stepped off the base after popping up, allowing him to get tagged out in the process.
It hardly mattered. The Cubs were too busy wasting chances to get to Volquez, who has suddenly emerged as a constant on Pittsburgh's injury muddled pitching staff. Starters Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole are on the disabled list, leaving Volquez and Charlie Morton as the only members of the opening day rotation still active.
After a bumpy patch in early May, Volquez is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his last five starts.
He wasn't crisp against the Cubs but managed to avoid major trouble, wiggling out of two-on jams in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Volquez finished with two walks and five strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 3.89.
Volquez received a little help from Pittsburgh's latest prized prospect. The Cubs had runners at second and third with one out in the fifth when Chris Coghlan hit a fly to right field. Polanco hesitated briefly before catching it then fired a strike to home to keep Chicago's John Baker at third. Volquez struck out Junior Lake to end the threat and the Pirates doubled their lead in the bottom of the inning.
NOTES: The Pirates called up INF Michael Martinez from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game and optioned RHP Casey Sandler back to Indianapolis. ... Cubs CF Emilio Bonifacio left in the first inning with a rib injury and did not return. ... The Cubs signed free agent C Yorvit Torrealba to a minor league deal Thursday. Torrealba, who played for Colorado last season, will report to the Cubs' training complex in Mesa, Arizona. ... The Pirates begin a three-game set in Miami on Friday night against the Marlins. Jeff Locke (0-1) starts for Pittsburgh against Nathan Eovaldi (4-2, 3.27). ... The Cubs continue a 10-game road trip on Friday in Philadelphia. Jake Arrieta (1-1, 2.50) starts for the Cubs against Roberto Hernandez (2-4, 4.35). ... The game was delayed twice by rain, 21 minutes before the first pitch and again for 1:14 in the bottom of the seventh.
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