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