Pittsburgh (39-50) at Chicago (45-44)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sat Jul 16, 2005
  • TV: WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Impressive rookie Zach Duke makes his third career start for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they continue a four-game series against the streaking Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

The 22-year-old Duke has been outstanding for Pittsburgh in two starts since being called up from the minors to make his major league debut on July 2.

The young southpaw pitched seven shutout innings for his first major league victory, a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on July 7.

“I’m impressed with everything about him,” Pirates managers Lloyd McClendon said. “The kid has a great makeup and the stuff to go with it. He’s something to be excited about. I think he can have a special career.”

Duke allowed six hits—five for extra bases—but repeatedly got big outs while stranding seven runners. He struck out eight and walked one.

“He had everything: His changeup was exceptional, his fastball touched 92 (mph), he had a decent curveball,” McClendon said. ‘It was just a fantastic job.”

Duke started the season at Triple-A Indianapolis but was promoted after going 12-3, following a 2004 season in which he was a combined 15-6 with a minor league-leading 1.46 ERA in Double-A and Single-A.

Duke’s pitching line to date in the majors: 14 innings, 11 hits, three runs, 17 strikeouts, two walks.

Duke will face a stiff test against the surging Cubs on Saturday.

Jerry Hairston hit his first career grand slam and Aramis Ramirez also homered as Chicago beat Pittsburgh 11-1 on Friday for its fifth straight win.

“It felt good, not because it was a grand slam,” said Hairston, who was 0-for-6 before the home run. “I think it was the first hit I had since the (All-Star) break. It felt good to contribute.”

Every player in the Cubs’ starting lineup had at least one hit as Chicago collected 16 against five Pittsburgh pitchers.

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Starting Pitchers

Z. Duke CWS vs. G. Maddux LAD
8-2 Record 13-15
1.81 ERA 4.24
58 K 136
23 BB 36
1.20 WHIP 1.22