The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t have much hope of getting back into the National League Central race, but they’re doing their best to play spoiler. The Pirates aim for a third consecutive victory over the division-leading Chicago Cubs when the teams continue their four-game series Wednesday in Pittsburgh.
The Pirates scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning Tuesday to rally for a 4-3 victory, giving them four straight wins and a glimmer of hope as they pulled within 8 1/2 games of Chicago. The Cubs have dropped three straight but remain 3 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee in the division. Chicago has scored just four runs during its three-game skid after putting up 14 or more twice during a six-game winning streak. The Pirates have taken a 9-8 lead in the season series, which wraps up Thursday.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), ATT SportsNet PIttsburgh
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs LH Jose Quintana (9-11, 4.49 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Gerrit Cole (11-9, 4.11)
Quintana has not been the force the Cubs hoped he would be when they acquired him from the crosstown White Sox, as he is 5-3 with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts since the trade. The 28-year-old Colombian has won three of his last four starts, though, and beat the Pirates last time out while allowing three runs on four hits with nine strikeouts over six innings. Quintana is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.
Cole has struggled to find consistency this season, and his last two starts - both against Cincinnati - are a perfect example. The 26-year-old threw seven scoreless innings to beat the Reds on Aug. 26 but gave up five runs and six hits over six innings in a loss Friday. Cole is 9-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 13 starts against the Cubs and has allowed two earned runs over 13 innings across two meetings this season.
1. Cubs RHP Jake Arrieta suffered a mild hamstring strain during Monday’s outing and is expected to miss one or two starts.
2. Pirates OF Jordan Luplow is 6-for-15 with two homers and six RBIs in his past four games after going 0-for-12 to begin his big-league career.
3. Cubs OF Jon Jay (10-for-29) and INF/OF Ian Happ (9-for-23) are riding six-game hitting streaks.
PREDICTION: Pirates 5, Cubs 3