The Pirates shifted their lineup for the game Monday night, leaving Ike Davis in the cleanup spot despite his recent struggles and stacking two left-handers in the middle of the order.
That put Pedro Alvarez in the fifth spot for the second time this season.
“I just don’t feel comfortable splitting them with [Starling] Marte right now, or with [Jordy] Mercer,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
“I’m going to take my shots with the two lefties, and, if they want to go left on left later on, I’ve got an option to go [right-hander Gaby] Sanchez.
Hurdle said Sunday that Sanchez would start at first base for a couple of games to give Davis, who is 0 for his past 20, a break, but decided against that Monday.
The Chicago Cubs started right-hander Edwin Jackson Monday.
“I just thought, for the next two games, let’s leverage our best lineup out there against these guys,” Hurdle said.
From the time Davis first played for the Pirates April 19 to the end of May, he hit .292 with a .380 on-base percentage. He walked 16 times and struck out 23.Going into the game against Chicago, he was hitless in June, with seven walks and five strikeouts.
“I would say 75 to 80 percent of the time, here’s how it runs,” Hurdle said. “Player’s hot. He hits some balls hard. He doesn’t get results. Now the at-bats, the number of pitches, might shrink. Firing earlier in the count. Now the balls are soft outs. Now the approach is gone, the balance is gone, the timing’s gone.”
Hurdle said he watched tape of right-handed batters and left-handed batters against Jackson as well as Davis’ recent at-bats before deciding to keep him in the lineup.
“That’s why we just ask them to be stubborn in their approach, relentless in their pursuit of squaring balls up,” Hurdle said. “You can’t control the outcome.”
The Cubs starter Tuesday night will be left-hander Travis Wood, so Sanchez could start.
Walker a late scratch
The Pirates scratched second baseman Neil Walker from the lineup less than an hour before the game started Monday because of abdominal pain.
Josh Harrison moved from right field to second base. Travis Snider batted second and played right.
Cole throws a little
Gerrit Cole, who went on the 15-day disabled list Sunday because of a fatigued right shoulder, played catch Monday.
Cole made 25 throws from 60 feet off flat ground in his first throwing session since Wednesday in San Diego.
“That’s basically when we started having the conversation about the shoulder fatigue,” Hurdle said.
Keeping tabs on Bonifacio
After Emilio Bonifacio’s first nine games of the season, six of them against the Pirates, he was hitting .452 (19 for 42) for the Cubs with a .500 on-base percentage.
Since then, the versatile Bonifacio has hit .234 with a .280 OBP.
Asked if the Pirates found a way to get him out, Hurdle said, “Somebody has.
“We found some areas where other teams were pitching him and having some success, so we’ll see if we can replicate some of that.” .
Cubs on hot streak
The Cubs entered the four-game series at PNC Park having won five of their past six games.
They won consecutive series for the first time since winning three in a row last June, but have yet to win a road series this season.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.