Chicago (5-3) at Pittsburgh (3-8)

  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Fri Apr 14, 2006
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Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Victor Santos hopes his success against the Chicago Cubs continues when he makes his third start of the season Friday in the opener of a three-game series at PNC Park.

Santos has just 18 career wins in parts of six big-league seasons, but is 3-2 with a 2.42 ERA in seven starts against the Cubs, all over the previous two years while with Milwaukee. He’s 15-28 with a 5.57 ERA as a starter against the rest of the majors.

Santos has allowed three earned runs or less and pitched at least five innings in every start against the Cubs. He went seven innings the last time he faced them in a 4-2 loss on June 21, 2005.

“The guy on the other side, Santos, he’s been tough on us,” Chicago manager Dusty Baker said at the time. “I’m just glad we got him.”

The Pirates (3-8) are, too, and after selecting the 29-year-old hurler from Kansas City in the Rule 5 Draft in the offseason, they plugged him into a starting rotation that went 48-65 with a 4.63 ERA last year.

So far, Santos is 1-1 with a 4.66 ERA. He lost his debut with Pittsburgh as he allowed three runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings against Milwaukee in a 7-5 loss on April 4, but bounced back Sunday to give up two runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-3 victory over Cincinnati.

The win snapped Pittsburgh’s six-game losing streak to start the season.

Santos could only watch as the Pirates’ pitching staff allowed 15 hits in a 13-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday in the finale of a four-game set.

Jeromy Burnitz went 2-for-4 with his third homer of the season and Freddy Sanchez singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

However, Pirates southpaw Oliver Perez lasted just 4 2-3 innings, allowing six runs, nine hits and five walks to drop to 0-2 this season.

“I was thinking too much,” Perez said. “My mind was lost. I’m trying to focus now on the next game.”

Chicago rookie Sean Marshall will face the Pirates for the first time as the Cubs (5-3) open a nine-game road trip.

Marshall, who made his major league debut against St. Louis last Sunday, earned a spot in the rotation after a strong spring training in which he went 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 15 innings.

In his first big-league outing, Marshall allowed four runs and four hits in 4 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out two, in the Cubs’ 8-4 victory.

The 23-year-old southpaw threw 65 pitches, 42 for strikes, and kept his composure after surrendering a two-run homer to Scott Rolen in the first inning.

Marshall hopes Chicago’s offense gets going in this series after being held to nine runs in three games against a maligned Cincinnati pitching staff. The Cubs lost two of those games following a three-game sweep of St. Louis.

All six of those games were at Wrigley Field and Chicago’s starting rotation went 2-2 with a 4.01 ERA during the homestand.

The Cubs’ staff, however, gave up three homers to the Reds in an 8-3 loss in the series finale Thursday.

“I don’t think that we should be satisfied,” Derrek Lee said of the homestand. “We played decent, but I felt like we kind of let down after the big St. Louis series.”

The Cubs have been without Aramis Ramirez (strained left glute muscle) and Jacque Jones (sore hamstring) for the last two games.

Baker said Ramirez might be available against the Pirates, while Jones may be held out until a three-game series with the Dodgers that begins Monday.

Ramirez, who spent his first five-plus seasons with Pittsburgh before being traded to the Cubs in July 2003, is 7-for-16 (.438) with one homer lifetime versus Santos.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Marshall CIN vs. V. Santos SF
6-9 Record 5-9
5.59 ERA 5.70
77 K 81
59 BB 42
1.52 WHIP 1.66