While the Pittsburgh Pirates have had little success against nearly every team this season, there is one club they’ve routinely managed to beat.
Trying to avoid losing a sixth straight game, the Pirates look to continue to frustrate the Chicago Cubs as they open a three-game series Monday at PNC Park.
Pittsburgh (20-31) has one of the NL’s worst records and is on pace for its 18th straight losing season. Despite these gloomy figures, the Pirates have had no trouble beating the Cubs (27-24).
Since April 30, Pittsburgh is 5-1 against Chicago, compared to 5-18 against everyone else.
The Pirates’ normally sluggish offense has knocked around Cubs pitching, averaging 5.8 runs while batting .276. The team is averaging 2.2 runs and hitting .228 in the other 23 games in May.
McCutchen, though, like most of his teammates enters this series in a bit of a slump.
The Pirates have plated 10 runs during a five-game losing skid, and have scored three runs or fewer in 10 of 11. McCutchen is 3 for 16 (.188) during the losing streak, while Andy LaRoche(notes) is 2 for 13 (.154) in his last five.
“We have to do a better job,” manager John Russell told the Pirates’ website following Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta. “That’s the bottom line. It’s what we’ve been saying for weeks now. Unfortunately, we haven’t found that groove where we start scoring runs.”
The Cubs are experiencing similar offensive troubles, scoring eight runs in losing three of four.
Lou Piniella, who said he might shuffle his lineup after Sunday’s 9-1 loss to St. Louis, will give the ball to Randy Wells(notes) (3-3, 4.79 ERA), who hopes this outing goes a bit better than his last one.
Wells failed to get an out in Friday’s 7-1 loss to St. Louis, throwing 16 pitches and yielding six consecutive hits to start the game before being removed.
“I’m pretty embarrassed,” Wells told the Cubs’ official website.
It was Wells’ worst outing since getting tagged for seven runs and five hits in two innings of an 11-1 loss in Pittsburgh on May 6. The right-hander had posted a 2.08 ERA in winning his first two career starts against the Pirates.
Wells, 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in five starts this month, is taking the spot in the rotation of Tom Gorzelanny(notes), who is being moved to the bullpen to make room for Carlos Zambrano(notes), the scheduled starter for Wednesday’s finale.
The Pirates counter with Ross Ohlendorf(notes) (0-3, 5.11), who was on the mound in Pittsburgh’s lone loss to the Cubs this season. Ohlendorf pitched well, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Wrigley Field on May 16, but didn’t receive a decision.
In his only other start against Chicago, Ohlendorf scattered four hits and struck out eight in seven innings of a 3-0 win on June 30.
The right-hander is coming off a shaky outing, yielding three runs, eight hits and five walks in six innings of Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Cincinnati. Since defeating Milwaukee on Aug. 18, Ohlendorf is 0-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 starts— with the Pirates losing eight of those contests.