Chicago (84-66) at Pittsburgh (68-82)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Wed Sep 22, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Chicago Cubs look to keep pace in the hotly contested NL wild-card race as they face the Pittsburgh Pirates in the middle game of their series at PNC Park.

It has been a difficult week for the Cubs, who played in their third road city in three days, the first time they’ve done that since they met the Giants, Phillies and Dodgers on consecutive days in 1953. They are 3-1 in a 57-hour stretch that began with them beating the Reds in Cincinnati on Sunday, then splitting a makeup doubleheader Monday at Florida.

“It was hard, but I didn’t hear anybody complain about it,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Nobody said anything, We know what we have to do. The schedule is what it is. We played pretty well and we won, and that’s all that matters. It didn’t matter what the score was, as long as we won.”

Chicago is 5-2 on an 11-day, 12-game road trip. With Tuesday’s 5-4 series opening win over Pittsburgh, the Cubs remained a half-game behind the Giants in the wild-card race and moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston, which lost 9-2 in San Francisco.

“This is why I came over here, to be in a pennant race,” said Ramirez, who as traded to the Cubs last season from Pittsburgh for Bobby Hill. “We knew the Giants and Astros are playing each other right now, and that’s what makes coming to the ballpark fun.”

The Cubs are now 11-5 against the Pirates since the All-Star break, including going 4-0 over nine days, outscoring them 28-13 and hitting 11 homers.

Pittsburgh left-hander Oliver Perez, who will face Chicago on Wednesday, was on the receiving end of one of those offensive outbursts. Perez, who had allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but two of his previous 17 starts, gave up 10 hits—four homers—and six runs in 5 2-3 innings in a 13-5 rout at Wrigley Field last Wednesday.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Zambrano Phi vs. O. PĂ©rez Hou
16-8 Record 12-10
2.75 ERA 2.98
188 K 239
81 BB 81
1.22 WHIP 1.15