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May 16, 2024 7:06 am

Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen aims to stay hot vs. Cubs

Andrew McCutchen

Andrew McCutchen will attempt to keep turning back the clock on Thursday when the Pittsburgh Pirates open a four-game road series against the Chicago Cubs.

McCutchen, 37, has hit safely in four of his past five games, going 8-for-20 (.400) with two home runs, three RBIs and six runs during that span. He was one of the few bright spots during Pittsburgh’s 10-2 loss to the host Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday, collecting three hits, including a solo shot.

“It’s really good to see. He has hit a lot of barrels and not had success in terms of getting hits,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of McCutchen. “It was good to see him get rewarded and get some knocks (Wednesday).”

Offensive production from McCutchen — or anyone — would be a welcome sight for Pittsburgh rookie right-hander Jared Jones (2-4, 2.68 ERA).

Jones is scheduled to make his ninth start of the season on Thursday, and the 22-old-year has been the victim of a Pirates lineup that has provided him with little run support.

Pittsburgh has scored more than two runs in just two of the eight games Jones has started, and the California native hasn’t surrendered more than three runs in an outing.

In his most recent start, Jones took a loss against the Cubs on Friday after giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings. That was his first career appearance against Chicago.

“Honestly, he’s got really good stuff,” Cubs center fielder Cody Bellinger said of Jones. “And as a young kid, he showed good poise up there.”

Bellinger went 2-for-3 with a home run against Jones during last week’s meeting, and he put together another solid performance on Wednesday, hitting a double and a single in Chicago’s 7-1 road victory over the Atlanta Braves.

The Cubs avoided a three-game sweep with the win. They were shut out in the first two games of the series.

Chicago right fielder Seiya Suzuki was able to shake off some rust on Wednesday, clubbing his first homer since April 13. Suzuki, who missed 24 games due to an oblique strain before returning last weekend, hopes to ride the newfound momentum into the series with the Pirates.

“My swing was really good and I felt really good, so it was just about staying persistent,” Suzuki said through an interpreter. “But I’m glad it finally went over (the fence).”

Chicago’s outfield duo will be back left-hander Justin Steele (0-0, 4.73) on Thursday.

Steele managed to escape with a no-decision against Pittsburgh on Saturday despite being lit up for six runs and six hits in four innings. He yielded three homers as part of the shellacking.

In seven career appearances (six starts) against the Pirates, Steele has struggled, going 1-2 with a 6.46 ERA.

Thursday marks the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. The Cubs are 2-1 against Pittsburgh this year. The Pirates have only three wins in their past 11 games at Wrigley Field, a rut that dates back to May 2022.

–Field Level Media

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