The Pirates' biggest obstacle was the rain as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over the Cubs Thursday.
The game featured two rain delays -- one at the beginning, and one in the seventh inning. But the Pirates kept the Cubs off the board throughout. Edinson Volquez pitched seven scoreless innings. Along the way, Volquez stranded two batters in the fifth (with catcher John Baker declining to run on Gregory Polanco on Chris Coghlan's fly ball to right) and sixth. Volquez also got a bit of help from Starling Marte, who made a great catch to rob Darwin Barney in the seventh.
Offensively, the Pirates scored two in the fourth on a double by Andrew McCutchen, a single from Ike Davis, a weakly-hit ground-rule double down the line by Russell Martin, and a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer. Then, in the following inning, Polanco and Marte led off with singles, then both came home on a gap hit by McCutchen that was eventually ruled a double. (McCutchen slid into third and got tagged out when he stood up and his foot came off the bag. The play was challenged and upheld.)
After the second rain delay, Tony Watson struck out the side in the eighth, and then Jared Hughes pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. Easy game. The Pirates are now just two games below .500, and both their offense and bullpen seem to be firing on all cylinders even with injuries piling up. And then there's Edinson Volquez pitching seven scoreless innings. It's not that hard to look good in a series against the Cubs, but the Pirates really seem to be on to something here.