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Starlin shows signs of heating up down stretch

After tough July, Cubs SS strokes pair of RBI doubles; manager's confidence unwavering
MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- After he struggled through July, Tuesday night's performance could serve as a catalyst for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

Coming off arguably the worst month of his career at the plate, Castro doubled twice and drove in two runs in a 5-0 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.

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PITTSBURGH -- After he struggled through July, Tuesday night's performance could serve as a catalyst for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro.

Coming off arguably the worst month of his career at the plate, Castro doubled twice and drove in two runs in a 5-0 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.

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Seeing the shortstop smoke a pair of line-drive two-baggers was a welcome sight for Cubs fans.

Video: CHC@PIT: Castro doubles home Rizzo in the 3rd

In July, Castro carried a .170 batting average and .194 on-base percentage. That batting average is the second-lowest monthly mark he's ever posted, and the on-base percentage was the worst of his career.

However, memories of that ineffectiveness were put out of mind early Tuesday evening.

In the third inning, Castro patiently worked a 3-1 count and jumped on J.A. Happ's 92-mph two-seam fastball, shooting it out to right-center and plating Anthony Rizzo to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Video: CHC@PIT: Castro fields chopper, fires to first

He followed that up in the fifth inning by driving the first pitch he saw from Pirates reliever Jared Hughes, a 93-mph sinker, to left field for his second double, scoring Rizzo once again and lifting the Cubs to a 4-0 advantage.

Statistically, Tuesday night was a revelation for Castro, who had only one multihit performance in his previous 25 games. Over that span, he was 13-for-91 (.143).

His two-double showing was also just his second game with more than one extra-base hit this season. The other was on May 12 against the Mets.

Video: CHC@PIT: Castro starts inning-ending double play

Despite prior struggles, Cubs manager Joe Maddon is confident in Castro's continued development.

"He's had a nice history of Augusts," Maddon said. "Everybody's going to look at his batting average, and I understand that, but he's close to 50 RBIs right now. He's got some really big hits for us.

"I still look at his birth certificate. The guy's 25. Starlin has a lot left to learn."

Perhaps Tuesday night will be yet another building block.

John McGonigal is an associate reporter for MLB.com.

Chicago Cubs, Starlin Castro