After having their longest winning streak of 2007 snapped, the Chicago Cubs will turn to Jason Marquis to help them bounce back Wednesday when they continue their three-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Chicago lost 4-3 in 15 innings in Tuesday’s series opener, ending its season-high winning streak at five games.
Marquis (4-1, 2.09 ERA), who signed a $21 million, three-year deal in the offseason despite tying for the second-most losses in the majors with 16 in 2006, has been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs. He will be aiming for his fourth straight victory in this contest, as well as his team-high fifth win overall.
The right-hander allowed one run and four hits in eight innings of Chicago’s 7-1 over Pittsburgh last Wednesday.
“Jason’s been lights out for us,” Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee said. “He’s pitched pretty much that way every start.”
Marquis, who is 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 15 career games - 11 starts - against Pittsburgh, opened 5-1 in 2005 for St. Louis.
“I really feel comfortable with where I’m at with my delivery and my mechanics,” he told the Cubs’ official Web site. “I feel like I’m repeating the same things over and over again, which is allowing me to do the things I want.”
Tuesday’s loss was just the second for the Cubs (15-15) in their last 10 games.
Alfonso Soriano went 3-for-6 with one RBI to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games. He is hitting .371 (26-for-70) during the run. Lee went 1-for-7 to extend his hitting streak to 15 games, but his league-leading average dropped to .398.
The Pirates (14-17) avoided a fourth straight loss with just their third victory in the last 10 games. Xavier Nady went 4-for-6 to raise his career average at Wrigley Field to .387 (24-for-62), and Jack Wilson hit sacrifice flies to tie the game in the ninth and to win it in the 15th.
“It took everything we possibly had to get the four runs,” Pirates manager Jim Tracy said.
The Pittsburgh bullpen held Chicago scoreless for eight innings Tuesday after allowing 12 earned runs in 10 1-3 innings during the three-game losing streak.
Tom Gorzelanny (4-1, 2.97) will look to lead the Pirates to their first consecutive victories since they won five straight April 22-27. The 24-year-old left-hander has recorded all four of his wins away from home.
Last Thursday, he allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings of the Pirates’ 4-2 win at Milwaukee.
Gorzelanny, who was born in the Chicago suburb of Evergreen Park, allowed two hits in eight scoreless innings and struck out seven to defeat the Cubs last Aug. 4, his only previous career appearance at Wrigley Field.