This is a big series, leading up to the final showdown at Cincy over the weekend, and the Bucs shouldn't sit on their clippings. Chicago lost 3-of-4 at PNC Park last week, but three games were decided by a run and the other by two, so this set should be yet another grind. Then again, aren't they all?
The game starts at 8:05 and will be aired by Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.
Pirate lineup: Jose Tabata LF, Neil Walker 2b, Andrew McCutchen CF, Justin Morneau 1b, Marlon Byrd RF, Pedro Alvarez 3b, Russ Martin C, Jordy Mercer SS and Charlie Morton P.
Jordy is back in the saddle again.
Cub lineup: Starlin Castro SS, Luis Valbuena 3b, Anthony Rizzo 1b, Dioner Navarro C, Nate Schierholtz RF, Ryan Sweeney CF, Brian Bogusevic LF, Darwin Barney 2b and Jeff Samardzij P.
Throwing six lefties at Charlie.
- Russell Martin is the first Pirate catcher to hit 15 home runs in a season since Ryan Doumit did it in 2008. He's got a shot at the club season record of 17, set by Jim Pagliaroni in 1965.
- The Pirates have gone 10-6 against the Cubs this season. The team went 7-3 at PNC Park and 3-3 at Wrigley Field. Pittsburgh is 4-6 in its last 10 games, and the only other NL Central team with a losing record over that span is the Cubbies, going 3-7.
- Pittsburgh magic # for the playoffs is two.
- San Diego started Pittsburgh on a bad stretch, and it was probably the baseball gods payback for what the Bucs did to Texas. The Pirates launched them on a seven-game losing streak and 10 losses in the last 13 games. The Rangers went from two games behind Oakland to 8-1/2 in the division, and from two games up in the wildcard to 1-1/2 games out of the playoff mix as of today.