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