PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has coined a phrase for where star center fielder Andrew McCutchen is at the moment.
"(He's) McHot," Hurdle said.
For once, it might be an understatement.
The reigning National League MVP had two doubles and two RBIs to lift the Pirates to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night. McCutchen is batting .428 (18 of 42) this month, with 15 of his hits going for extra bases.
"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," said McCutchen, a career .324 hitter in June. "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. Edinson Volquez (4-5) pitched seven effective innings to win for the third time in his last five starts.
Volquez struck out five and walked two while outpitching Chicago ace Jeff Samardzija (2-6). It helped the Cubs could do little when given the chance. Chicago went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
"He was commanding the zone like he does when he is in a good place and we were on the other side of it," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said of Volquez.
McCutchen broke it open with a two-run double in the fifth. The Pirates had seven doubles in all, their highest total since a win over Houston in July 2010.
"The next team that comes in here is probably better off pitching around him and letting him go to first base," Samardzija said.
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.
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