The Chicago Cubs started a six-game winning streak by taking three games from the Pittsburgh Pirates last week, and they hope to start another one when they begin a four-game series Monday in Pittsburgh. Chicago had its winning streak snapped Sunday but leads the National League Central by 3 1/2 games over Milwaukee.
The Cubs are 32-16 since the All-Star break and have won 12 of their last 16. “It’s crunch time here and the race is heating up,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told reporters. “It makes for fun baseball. I know everybody here shows up ready to go and focused. I don’t think there’s added pressure. It’s more fun because the games mean more.” The Cubs hope to continue hitting the ball hard against right-hander Chad Kuhl, who has had trouble with several Chicago hitters including Anthony Rizzo (6-for-12, HR), Jason Heyward (6-for-10, HR), and Ben Zobrist (4-for-6, 2 HRs). Chicago has beaten Kuhl twice this season and leads the season series 8-7.
TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, ABC 7 (Chicago), ATT SportsNet-Pittsburgh
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (14-8, 3.36 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Chad Kuhl (6-10, 4.54)
Arrieta is 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA in nine starts since the All-Star break, and he has won his last four decisions. The 31-year-old beat the Pirates in his last outing, allowing two hits and two walks over six scoreless frames. Arrieta is 10-5 with a 3.02 ERA in 19 starts against the Pirates.
Kuhl has lost two straight starts and three of his last four. The 24-year-old Delaware native has failed to get through six innings in his last four outings, and he has issued three or more walks in three of those starts. Kuhl lost to the Cubs last time out and is 0-4 with an 11.07 ERA in six career meetings.
1. The Pirates’ active roster is hitting a combined .218 against Arrieta, but 1B Josh Bell is 6-for-13 with two doubles and a homer.
2. Bryant went 0-for-3 with a walk Sunday and has reached base in 28 consecutive starts.
3. Heyward is 9-for-22 during a six-game hitting streak.
PREDICTION: Cubs 6, Pirates 2