Preview: Pirates at Cubs
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[June 20, 2014]
Navigating through the top of the
Pittsburgh lineup is a little more difficult these days and the Chicago
Cubs are next to deal with Gregory Polanco and Co. when they host the
Pirates on Friday to begin a three-game series. Polanco, a rookie right
fielder, set a team record by hitting safely in his first nine career
contests and is batting .378 with six RBIs and nine runs scored after
recording two hits to help Pittsburgh (35-37) defeat Cincinnati 4-3 in
12 innings on Thursday and snap a three-game slide. Polanco, No. 2
hitter Starling Marte and No. 3 Andrew McCutchen are hitting a combined
.376 with 23 RBIs and 20 runs scored since Polanco joined the lineup.
Chicago (30-40), which is 15-14 at Wrigley Field, starts a
10-game homestand after losing three of four in Pittsburgh before
winning back-to-back series to finish its road trip 5-5. "Over the
last two or three weeks, we've been playing pretty good baseball and
bounced back," Cubs manager Rick Renteria told reporters. The
Pirates' Charlie Morton has won three straight decisions and faces
Edwin Jackson and the Cubs for the third time this season, with
Pittsburgh winning all three.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), WGN (Chicago)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Charlie Morton (4-7, 3.09 ERA) vs. Cubs
RH Edwin Jackson (4-7, 5.11)
Morton has a 2.37 ERA with 22 strikeouts over 19 innings in his last
three turns, including an 8-6 victory at Miami on Saturday when he
yielded two runs in seven innings. The 30-year-old New Jersey native
won his last start against Chicago after allowing one run while
striking out seven in a 6-2 victory June 9 following a pair of
no-decisions. Morton, who is 1-3 with a 5.94 ERA in six starts at
Wrigley Field, has struggled against Starlin Castro (11-for-24, two
homers, six RBIs).
Jackson was roughed up in a 7-4 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday
when he yielded seven runs (six earned) and eight hits in 4 2/3
innings - his fifth consecutive non-quality start. The 30-year-old
lost his last start against Pittsburgh on June 9 after allowing four
runs while striking out eight in six innings following a pair of
no-decisions. Jackson, who is 6-3 with a 3.82 ERA in 13 starts
against the Pirates, has trouble with McCutchen (12-for-26, three
homers, nine RBIs, six walks) and Marte (8-for-17).
[to top of second column]
1. Pittsburgh closer Jason Grilli blew his fourth save in 15 chances
Thursday, two games after taking the loss when he yielded a home run
in the ninth inning.
2. Castro is 12-for-25 with two homers, eight RBIs and five runs in
his last six games, and his 82 hits are third among shortstops
behind Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox and Colorado's Troy
3. The Pirates won two of three in their first trip to Chicago this
season and are 7-1-1 in their last nine series at Wrigley Field.
PREDICTION: Pirates 3, Cubs 2
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