National League Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, June 20 (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (35-37) at Chicago Cubs (30-40), 4:05 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Charlie Morton (4-7, 3.09) Chicago - Edwin Jackson (4-7, 5.11)
(SportsNetwork.com) - At 30-40 through 70 games, the Chicago Cubs can't claim to be the best at very much. But a recently torrid stretch at Wrigley Field has made them the best home team in the major leagues since mid-May.
Edwin Jackson takes the mound to try and keep that run intact on Friday afternoon, when the Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three- game weekend series.
The Cubs have won eight of their last 10 at home since May 17 -- a stretch in which their starting pitchers have compiled a 1.32 earned run average. Jackson is 3-1 in six home starts this season, and 2-0 in his last three while allowing two earned runs and striking out 24.
He lost two starts on a just-completed 10-game road trip.
On June 9 at Pittsburgh, he was a 6-2 loser after allowing four runs in six innings. The loss dropped him to 6-3 in his career against the Pirates.
Reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen is 12-for-26 with three home runs against him.
"I just have to do a better job of executing pitches and keeping the ball down," Jackson said. "(McCutchen is) strong enough to where even if he gets beat, he has enough power to still hit it well."
Pittsburgh counters with Charlie Morton, who was a winner against Jackson in the June 9 after allowing a single run in seven innings.
He's 3-0 in June after an 8-6 defeat of Miami on Saturday and is in position to win four straight starts for the first time in his career.
In six starts at Wrigley, he's 1-3 with a 5.94 ERA.
On Thursday in Pittsburgh, Gaby Sanchez singled in the 12th inning and scored the winning run when Russell Martin drew a two-out, bases-loaded walk, lifting Pittsburgh to a 4-3 win over Cincinnati.
The Pirates avoided being swept in the three-game series, bouncing back to win after Devin Mesoraco tied the game for the Reds with a solo homer in the top of the ninth inning off closer Jason Grilli. Sanchez hit a one-out single in the 12th and would have been picked off by a mile at first base had a balk not been called on Tony Cingrani (2-8).
Josh Harrison was then intentionally walked and Cingrani hit Barmes with two outs to load the bases. He nearly hit Martin, too, but the Pirates catcher threw his legs back. It didn't matter. Cingrani's 3-1 pitch was low, forcing in the winning run.
Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke threw six strong innings but his start was cut short by a rain delay in the bottom of the sixth. Justin Wilson (2-0) threw a perfect 12th inning for the win.
On Wednesday in Miami, Nate Schierholtz hit a three-run homer to cap a four- run sixth inning, and Chicago topped the Marlins, 6-1, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Starlin Castro finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo also collected three hits and Darwin Barney drove in a run.
Jake Arrieta (3-1) yielded five hits and one run with a career-high 11 strikeouts over seven strong innings.
"He was commanding his fastball better, and his breaking ball is starting to get some bite and location," Cubs manager Rich Renteria said. "He's got great stuff, and adding onto that, he's becoming very composed."
The Pirates have won seven of 10 versus the Cubs this season.
06/20 10:49:17 ET