The Chicago Cubs have started their 10-game road trip with an offensive surge.
After totaling 16 runs in the first two games, the Cubs look to complete their first series sweep in nearly two months as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
Chicago beat Pittsburgh 7-3 in the series opener Friday and followed that with a 9-5 victory Saturday.
The Cubs had lost eight of 11 games—a stretch capped by a 7-0 loss to Los Angeles—coming into this trip to virtually fall out of the playoff race.
A victory Sunday, though, will give Chicago its first sweep of any series since taking three straight at Florida from July 8-10.
Saturday’s win saw Chicago’s Carlos Zambrano strike out nine, and help himself with two hits and an RBI to get his seventh consecutive win over the Pirates.
“Sometimes I get lucky and hit some pitches,” Zambrano said. “I don’t try to hit the ball like (Todd) Walker does, just try to make contact.”
Continuing to pile up runs certainly would help Chicago during its next stop on this road trip, a three-game set against a first-place St. Louis team that entered the weekend second in the NL with 682 runs scored.
The Pirates go into Sunday’s series finale hoping to avoid an eighth straight home loss, something they’ve never done at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has dropped 11 of 13 overall and is two defeats from clinching a 13th consecutive losing season.
Manager Lloyd McClendon’s job may be in trouble, considering he hasn’t had a winning season since taking over in 2001 and the Pirates have yet to exercise his 2006 club option. McClendon, though, continues to give frequent starts to seven Pirates rookies and insists he will keep doing so.
“We’re making progress,” he said. “Is it showing up in the standings? No, but it’s not like we’re not making progress.”