Inquirer Daily News

National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, July 7th (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (53-33) at Chicago Cubs (37-48), 2:20 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.12) Chicago - Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.45)

(Sports Network) - A.J. Burnett comes off the disabled list Sunday to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Chicago Cubs in the rubber match of a three- game series at Wrigley Field.

Burnett hasn't pitched since June 8 due to a strained right calf. That start came at Wrigley Field, when the right-hander came within two outs of a complete game in a 6-2 victory.

Burnett allowed just four hits, including a two-run homer to Alfonso Soriano in the ninth inning.

Burnett has mastered the Cubs in his career, going 7-2 with a 3.08 ERA in 10 starts. That includes a 5-0 mark in six starts at Wrigley Field.

Carlos Villanueva gets the start today for the Cubs Sunday.

The right-hander makes his ninth start and 25th overall appearance of the season. Villanueva hasn't started since May 14 when he suffered a 9-4 home loss to the Colorado Rockies.

Most recently, Villanueva tossed 2 2/3 innings of relief in Chicago's 8-7 loss at Oakland on Tuesday. He is 2-2 with four saves and a 2.98 ERA in 23 games (2 starts) against the Pirates.

On Saturday, Soriano drove in four runs with a pair of homers and the Cubs shut down the Pirates, 4-1. Soriano's 32nd career game with multiple home runs backed a solid start from Edwin Jackson and a lights-out bullpen effort anchored by Kevin Gregg.

Jackson (5-10) allowed just one run on four hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings for the Cubs, who snapped a two-game skid.

Charlie Morton (1-2) served up both of Soriano's homers and was charged with four runs on seven hits and three walks over six frames to take the loss, the third in the last five games for the NL Central-leading Pirates.

Pittsburgh also had a seven-game road winning streak broken.

Pittsburgh leads the season series, 7-4.

07/07 10:43:23 ET