Pittsburgh (46-68) at Chicago (58-55)

Fair Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 2:20 pm EDT Fri Aug 14, 2009
  • TV: WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Chicago Cubs are in danger of playing themselves out of postseason contention. A weekend visit from the Pittsburgh Pirates might help them get back on track.

The reeling Cubs look to avoid a sixth straight loss as they open a three-game set against the last-place Pirates on Friday at Wrigley Field.

Mired in its longest losing streak since dropping eight in a row from May 17-25, Chicago (58-55) was swept in a three-game home series by NL East-leading Philadelphia after falling 6-1 on Thursday.

The Cubs, who have lost seven of eight, were one game behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central after beating Colorado 6-5 on Aug. 8. Five straight losses later, Chicago is 4 1/2 games behind the Cardinals and five out in the wild card.

“We’ve been inconsistent,” Chicago first baseman Derrek Lee(notes) said. “That’s obvious. We’re just not playing good. … There is only so much talking you can do. It’s the middle of August.”

Chicago continues to suffer at plate, batting .259 and averaging 3.3 runs during its last eight contests.

“It’s been a struggle,” said manager Lou Piniella, whose team hasn’t lost four in a row at home since dropping five straight there from Aug. 30-Sept. 3.

The Cubs hope to get a boost if Aramis Ramirez(notes) is able to return after missing the last four games with shoulder soreness. Ramirez is batting .317 with nine homers and 33 RBIs in 43 games.

With or without the slugging third baseman, the Cubs have a good chance to end their skid while facing the Pirates (46-68), who’ve lost two in a row and 10 of 11.

Chicago is 4-2 against Pittsburgh this year and 9-3 versus the Pirates at Wrigley since the start of the 2008 season.

Ryan Theriot(notes), who drove in his career-high 46th RBI on Thursday, is 11 for 22 with four RBIs against the Pirates this season.

The Cubs also roughed up Pittsburgh’s scheduled starter Charlie Morton(notes) (2-5, 3.81 ERA) when he took the loss in his only appearance against them Aug. 13, 2008, while with Atlanta. Morton allowed four runs and walked four in 2 1-3 innings of a 10-2 loss to Chicago.

The right-hander looks to avoid losing his fourth straight start despite allowing one run and seven hits in five innings of a 5-3 loss to St. Louis on Saturday.

Chicago counters with rookie Randy Wells(notes) (8-5, 3.01), who’s coming off the worst outing of his career.

The right-hander lost for the first time since July 12, giving up seven runs in 5 1-3 innings of an 11-5 loss at Colorado on Sunday.

“I guess just chalk this one up as a tough day, forget about it, and come back and start a new run,” said Wells, who was 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA between losses.

Wells won his only outing versus the Pirates, allowing one run in seven innings of a 4-1 victory at Pittsburgh on July 1.

Pirates rookie center fielder Andrew McCutchen(notes) had two hits in that contest against the Cubs, and drove in the lone run in Thursday’s 10-1 loss at Colorado.

Pittsburgh, 18-41 away from home, hasn’t won a road series since taking three of four from Washington on May 18-21.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Morton Pit vs. R. Wells Tex
5-9 Record 12-10
4.55 ERA 3.05
62 K 104
40 BB 46
1.46 WHIP 1.28

Scoreboard

Friday, Aug 14