McCutchen homers again in Pirates' win over Cubs, 4-2
June 12, 2014 1:07 AM
Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez fires to first on a ball hit by the Cubs' Darwin Barney at PNC Park on Wednesday.
Pirates' Andrew McCutchen is greeted at home by Ike Davis after hitting a two-run homer against the Cubs in the first inning at PNC Park.
By Bill Brink / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Andrew McCutchen had to wait a little longer to resume his assault on opposing pitching. A monsoon encircled PNC Park, delaying the game Wednesday night for 1 hour, 38 minutes. Lighting flashed in every direction; the PNC Park audio crew obliged, blaring Pearl Jam's "Lightning Bolt."
McCutchen provided his brand of thunder in the Pirates' 4-2 win against the Chicago Cubs. He homered for the third consecutive game and extended his hitting streak to seven games. He has 13 extra-base hits, six of them homers, in 10 games this month, and he has four consecutive multi-hit games.
"It's just so fun to watch a guy up there with that kind of confidence night in, night out," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Once this calendar month flipped, man, he's hit another gear."
Cubs starter Jason Hammel walked Josh Harrison on four pitches in the first. Two batters later, McCutchen hit a 1-0 fastball high in the air down the left-field line. The ball deflected off the outstretched glove of Chris Coghlan, who jumped and reached over the wall, for McCutchen's 10th homer this season.
"Yeah, I definitely would have went out there and high-fived him if he would have caught that," McCutchen said.
McCutchen is hitting .318 with a .542 slugging percentage.
"When he gets a pitch to hit, he's not missing it," Hurdle said. "The balls are going line to line. He's in command of the at-bat and the pitches that aren't there, he's taking."
Pirates starter Brandon Cumpton completed five innings and allowed two runs in his second solid start in a row after an 11-run, 3 2/3-inning disaster in Los Angeles.
Cumpton allowed baserunners in every inning except the fourth, but bailed out his infielders in his fifth and final inning. Justin Ruggiano reached second with one out when third baseman Pedro Alvarez threw the ball into the seats. Cumpton walked Anthony Rizzo but got Starling Castro to line out.
Luis Valbuena lined a ball off first baseman Ike Davis' glove, which was ruled a single, and the bases were loaded. Facing left-hander Nate Schierholtz, Cumpton threw a first-pitch changeup, an inside fastball and a slider in the dirt that Schierholtz swung at for strike three.
"I had total confidence [catcher Russell Martin] was going to block it," said Cumpton, who improved to 2-2. "It was just a matter of me burying it in the dirt like I was supposed to."
Left-handers Tony Watson and Justin Wilson produced scoreless innings with one strikeout in the sixth and seventh. Mark Melancon sliced through three left-handers on eight pitches in the eighth and closer Jason Grilli recorded his 10th save.
"We're confident in that we know what we're capable of doing and we know our roles, so it always is a plus," Grilli said.
Since returning from the disabled list May 23, Grilli has allowed one run in eight innings and saved six.
Harrison left the game in the third inning because of pain in his left ankle, the result of rolling it while tagging up on Gregory Polanco's lineout. Clint Barmes pinch-hit for him and played second base.
"It was a roll," Harrison said. "Ankle was on the ground."
Cumpton let the first three batters of the second find their way on base. Luis Valbuena singled, Schierholtz walked and John Baker singled to score a run. Darwin Barney's grounder scored Schierholtz, tying the score.
Jordy Mercer hit a one-out double to the warning track in the second and Cumpton poked his first career hit to right field. Hammel hit Harrison to load the bases for Polanco, who recorded his first major-league RBI with a grounder to first.
Alvarez hit his first triple of the season with one out in the third and scored on Starling Marte's single.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG.
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