It took two full cycles through the order Thursday night, and then it happened.
Gregory Polanco lined a leadoff single up the middle in the fifth inning. Starling Marte followed it with a single of his own. Then Andrew McCutchen doubled to the notch in left-center field to score both as the Pirates' imposing new top of the order delivered.
McCutchen raced to third, but his momentum pulled his foot off the bag and Luis Valbuena tagged him out. The Pirates challenged, but the call was upheld. But the sequence put the Pirates ahead, 4-0, on their way to a win to take three out of four games from the Chicago Cubs and close out the series.
"You envision things, and get some young fresh legs at the top," said manager Clint Hurdle. "Probably the most impressive was the way we were able to battle against one of the best pitchers in the league. That inning in particular you get a rookie and a one-year player [with] 0-2 base hits. Two strikes, no balls, they click, they get on. And 22 is 'McHot' right now. He just keeps swinging, getting pitches and not missing."
By the end, the Pirates smashed seven doubles and 10 hits to improve to 32-34. Nine of those hits came off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija.
Pirates starter Edinson Volquez threw his four-seam fastball just once, but worked his sinker, curveball and changeup to battle through seven shutout innings. It was his deepest outing since April 22 and marked the first time this season he pitched seven scoreless.
Volquez (4-5) struck out five and walked two before a rain delay of more than an hour halted the game with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
He got some big strikeouts with his curveball.
"It was a great pitch tonight," Volquez said. "I was able to throw the ball where I wanted. I think I was able to go over there and compete with Samardzija. He's one of the toughest guys in the National League."
Volquez put two on in the third with a single and a walk, but got Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo to strike out swinging at curveballs to get out of the jam.
He put the Cubs down in order in the fourth and worked his way out of another jam in the fifth after issuing a leadoff walk, followed by a single.
He gave up a single and a double in the sixth, but again got a strikeout with his curveball and a grounder to end the inning.
The one four-seamer he threw was a double by Samardzija: "It was bad. It was up in the zone."
Polanco helped to hold off a run in the fifth.
With catcher John Baker on third, Chris Coghlan hit a towering fly ball to right field, but Polanco's throw home was perfectly on line and Baker never attempted to tag up.
Tony Watson struck out three in the eighth and Jared Hughes retired the side in the ninth.
The Pirates strung together three hits off Samardzija (2-6) in the fourth to take a 2-0 lead.
Polanco nearly drove in Clint Barmes with a sacrifice fly in the third, but the ball was fairly shallow and right fielder Nate Schierholtz nailed Barmes at the plate.
McCutchen, meanwhile, said he hopes to build on what transpired in the fifth.
"It was a good job. Guys are getting on base, having an opportunity for guys to get on and use their legs, me being included," he said. "It was good, so hopefully we can continue to do that."
Jenn Menendez firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JennMenendez.