Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stellar Polanco Helps Salvage Split Pirates 5, Cubs 4

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Stellar Polanco Helps Salvage Split Pirates 5, Cubs 4

Article excerpt

Gregory Polanco batted third and played center field Thursday out of necessity. Andrew McCutchen was scheduled to have the day off, and manager Clint Hurdle likes to tell his players about those days in advance, believing the mental aspect of going to sleep knowing your name won't be on the lineup card the next day can add additional value to the physical rest provided.

When Starling Marte couldn't start because of a bruised right hand, center field and the No. 3 spot belonged to Polanco. He delivered.

Polanco went 3 for 4 and drove in two runs, including the eventual winner, in the Pirates' 5-4 victory against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. By beating the Cubs for the second game in a row, the Pirates split the four-game series, evened their record at 8-8 and ended their homestand with a 6-4 record.

Polanco is 5 for 8 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs in his past two games. He hit a run-scoring double in the sixth, forcing Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks from the game, and scored later in the inning. He did more damage in the seventh.

Josh Harrison doubled against Cubs reliever Brian Schlitter. The Cubs went to left-hander Phil Coke, the Pirates countered by pinch- hitting Corey Hart for Andrew Lambo and the Cubs intentionally walked Hart to get to Polanco.

"You're more focused and you say, I want to win this fight," Polanco said. "You want to always be ready every pitch because they walked the hitter before to try to make you out."

Polanco fell behind in the count, 0-2. He looked at three balls, fouled off two pitches and grounded a 95 mph fastball into left field for the go-ahead RBI.

"He just got a pitch and he just went with it,"Hurdle said. "Didn't try and do too much, stayed within himself, got the barrel to it. Really good at-bat."

Sean Rodriguez homered, Harrison doubled twice and Jordy Mercer drove in the tying run in his return to the lineup. …

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