Andrew McCutchen had been waiting for a while to get a significant hit and it came in the sixth inning on Wednesday night when he recorded his first triple of the season. Two innings later he had a single, good for the 1,000th hit of his career.
The Pittsburgh Pirates secured a winning record in April with their 8-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs. The win puts the Pirates at 12-10 for April, an improvement over 2014’s 9-16 mark.
Despite the Pirates victory, it was the Cubs who scored first in the contest. Kris Bryant reached first base with a walk and Pedro Alvarez recorded one of his two errors on the night missing a catch on a pick off attempt. With Bryant standing on second base, Miguel Montero hit a single which plated Bryant.
The Pirates tied the game in the fourth inning. Neil Walker, who saw his 10-game hitting streak end Tuesday night, hit a leadoff single. He would be out via a fielder’s choice, which allowed Starling Marte to reach base. Marte then stole second base for his third stolen base of the season. Jung-ho Kang, playing third base, batted him in with a single.
An additional run was scored in the fifth inning. Pitcher Gerrit Cole helped his own cause with a hard hit single. The next batter, Gregory Polanco reached base with a fielder’s choice. Jordy Mercer singled, putting runners on first and third with one out. Though McCutchen struck out, Walker was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Marte then battled Kyle Hendricks from 0-2 down in the count to draw a walk, his third free pass of the season. The Pirates nearly added another run on a force play at second base, but the Cubs challenged the initial safe call, which was overturned.
A four-run sixth inning created separation between the two teams. Chris Stewart started the offense with a one out, connecting on a double that stayed fair down the left field line. Gonzalez German came in for Hendricks and intentionally walked Polanco with two outs. Mercer hit a line drive single up the middle and Stewart was waved home. Dexter Fowler’s throw beat Stewart, however he slid away from the baseball, allowing the first run of the inning to score. McCutchen’s triple added another two runs and after a Walker walk, Marte hit a single.
The ninth inning resulted in an additional two runs for the Pirates as Alvarez and Kang hit back-to-back doubles to force another run home. Stewart added a single advancing Kang to third. Sean Rodriguez then came in to pinch hit and grounded into a double play which scored Kang.
Cole [4-0] picked up the win and retired eight consecutive batters to end the outing. Cole pitched six innings allowing three hits, one run [unearned], one walk and eight strikeouts while throwing 95 pitches, 59 of which were strikes. Arquimedes Caminero, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon pitched three shutout innings to conclude the game. Hendricks [0-1] picked up the loss.
Kang went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the contest, raising his batting average to .269. Stewart went 2-for-5, raising his batting average to .263. Mercer and McCutchen were the other two Pirates with multi-hit games, with each going 2-for-5 at the plate.
The Pirates road trip will conclude after an off day Thursday with three games in St. Louis. A.J. Burnett [0-1 1.80 ERA] will face Lance Lynn [1-2 3.63 ERA] of the Cardinals. Burnett is 9-6 with a 3.87 ERA in 18 regular season starts against the Cardinals. Burnett pitched a complete game in his one start last season against the Cardinals and was 3-1 with a 3.67 ERA in 2013.