PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jeff Samardzija has some advice his pitching brethren when it comes to facing streaking Andrew McCutchen.
The way the Chicago Cubs’ ace looks at it, trying to get the Pittsburgh Pirates’ star out at the moment only opens yourself up for disaster.
“The next team that comes in here is probably better off pitching around him and letting him go to first base,” Samardzija said.
Samardzija tried — and failed — to deal with the scorching McCutchen in Pittsburgh’s 4-0 win on Thursday night. The reigning National League MVP doubled twice and drove in two runs as the Pirates cruised.
“I’m sure Jeff would to have those pitches back but McCutchen is also a good hitter and he’s not missing right now,” Chicago manager Rick Renteria said.
Not by a long shot.
McCutchen broke it open with a two-run double in the fifth off Samardzija (2-6) and is batting .428 (18 of 42) with 15 extra-base hits in June.
“I’m seeing the ball and I get a pitch to hit and I hit it and it’s finding the gaps and that’s basically what’s happening right now for me,” McCutchen said. “Things are just working out right now and I want to continue to stay where I’m at.”
Russell Martin also doubled twice for the Pirates and rookie Gregory Polanco got a hit in the third straight game since his call-up. The Pirates had seven doubles in all, their highest total since a win over Houston in July 2010. Edinson Volquez (4-5) pitched seven effective innings to win for the third time in his last five starts.
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.
Chicago’s 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.
“I felt I had good command and they didn’t let me get away with any mistakes,” said Samardzija, who gave up four runs on nine hits in six-plus innings, walking two and striking out seven. “I put a couple of cutters out over the plate to McCutchen and he made me pay.”
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. 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) was commanding the zone like he does when he is in a good place and we were on the other side of it,” Renteria said.
NOTES: Chicago 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 Chicago’s training complex in Mesa, Arizona. ... 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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