The Pirates try for a seventh consecutive victory over the struggling Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.
After going 6-27 against the Cubs (15-21) from Sept. 21, 2007-Sept. 29, 2009, the Pirates have won six straight from their NL Central rivals. That included a home sweep of Chicago from May 4-6.
“We’ve been on the other side of (Cubs’ winning streaks) a few times,” said Pirates manager John Russell, whose team has outscored Chicago 28-11 this season.
The Cubs, who haven’t dropped in seven in a row to Pittsburgh since 1990, have lost eight of 10 overall. Chicago is a disappointing 8-9 at home in 2010.
Pittsburgh had a season-high 16 hits Friday to snap a four-game losing streak in which it managed five runs and 18 hits and was shut out in its previous two contests.
Jones, whose three-run homer off reliever Carlos Zambrano(notes) in the eighth inning Friday broke a 6-6 tie, drove in a career-high five runs. McCutchen scored five runs and had two RBIs. The two rising stars are the first Pirates to have five hits in the same game since Willie Stargell and Bob Robertson on Aug. 1, 1970 at Atlanta.
“I guess we were just kind of competing against each other,” McCutchen said.
McCutchen is 9 for 11 with four RBIs in three games against the Cubs this season. Jones, a native of south suburban Chicago, is 10 for 17 with 10 RBIs versus them in 2010.
After Pittsburgh tagged former Pirate Tom Gorzelanny(notes) for five runs in five innings in the series opener, it will try to beat scheduled starter Ryan Dempster(notes) for the second time this month.
On May 4, Dempster (2-3, 3.44 ERA) allowed three runs in seven innings of a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh. He dropped to 6-5 with a 5.26 ERA in 18 career starts versus the Pirates.
The right-hander looks to avoid a fourth straight loss after he allowed five runs in seven innings of a 5-3 defeat at Cincinnati on Sunday.
The left-hander allowed two runs in six innings during last week’s win over Dempster and the Cubs to improve to 5-1 with a 6.63 ERA in 10 starts against them.
Alfonso Soriano(notes), who’s 7 for 21 with four home runs against Maholm, had two hits with two RBIs Friday for the Cubs. Marlon Byrd(notes) also had two hits, including his seventh homer, to raise his average to .345.