National League Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, June 21 (All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (35-38) at Chicago Cubs (31-40), 7:15 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Vance Worley (0-0, 0.00) Chicago - Travis Wood (7-5, 4.48)
(SportsNetwork.com) - They're last in the National League Central, three games behind the next closest team in the standings and 12 games out of first place.
But that doesn't at all mean that the Chicago Cubs have packed it in for the 2014 season, a realty they'll try to maintain on Saturday night in the second of three games at Wrigley Field with the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.
Pittsburgh, incidentally, is the team Chicago is chasing to escape the divisional basement. Friday's win for the Cubs in the series opener moved them within three games of the fourth-place Pirates in the Central.
The win lifted Chicago to 9-2 at home since a 7-12 start, and their 18-13 overall record since May 17 is the best in the National League.
"This is the nicest I've felt about this team since I've been here," said Anthony Rizzo, who endured a 96-136 mark through his first two seasons, second-worst in the majors behind Houston.
Lefty Travis Wood gets the call on Saturday for Chicago after blanking Philadelphia, 3-0, in his last start.
Wood allowed three hits in eight innings in the win, in which he carried a no- hitter into the sixth. He defeated the Pirates, 7-3, in his last meeting with them on June 10 and is 3-2 with a 2.13 ERA in his last seven games against Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the Pirates have seen their starters allow 19 runs in their last 20 1/3 innings over four games.
Vance Worley gets his second starting call for the team after he was brought up from Triple-A to replace an ailing Francisco Liriano.
Worley tossed seven shutout innings on Sunday in Miami, but got a no-decision in a game Pittsburgh ultimately lost, 3-2.
In 10 starts for Minnesota in 2013, he was 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA.
On Friday, Starlin Castro hit a three-run homer, Chris Coghlan had a solo blast and the Cubs beat the Pirates, 6-3.
Coghlan also tripled and scored two runs for the Cubs.
Edwin Jackson (5-7) picked up the win, just his second in his last six starts, despite allowing three runs on five hits and two walks in five innings. He had eight strikeouts.
Jordy Mercer had a three-run homer for the Pirates.
Charlie Morton (4-8) had a three-start winning streak snapped, yielding six runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings.
06/21 10:58:08 ET