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Chicago Cubs (18-27) at Pittsburgh Pirates (28-18)
Thursday, May 23 - 12:35 PM EST
PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Pittsburgh Pirates will try to match a season-high with their fourth straight win and finish off a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs when they wrap up a 10-game homestand Thursday afternoon. Pittsburgh is 7-2 during the stand and 17-9 overall at home. The pitching staff has been tremendous at PNC Park, boasting a 2.58 ERA at home after shutting out the Cubs on Wednesday.
The Cubs might not be close to competing for a World Series title, but they're certainly close to having a much better record than they do. Their last four losses have come by a run, and they're 6-12 in one-run contests. The Pirates have been on the right side of one-run margins in their last four victories. Pittsburgh has won 10 of its last 12, while Chicago has dropped three straight and five of seven.
TV: 12:35 p.m. ET, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, ROOT Sports (Pittsburgh)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.78)
Jackson got his tenure with the Cubs off to a terrible start, but has turned things around in his past two outings. He limited the Mets to three runs over 6 2/3 innings last time out but was outdueled by Matt Harvey and tagged with the loss. Jackson is 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA in seven starts against the Pirates, but the loss came this year, as he allowed two runs over five innings in his Cubs debut.
Gomez is still working on getting stretched out after starting the season in the bullpen, but has been effective early in games. He has a 2.89 ERA in four starts - all Pittsburgh wins - but has not pitched past the fifth inning and didn't make it through the fifth last time out, allowing four runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 frames against Houston. Gomez has never faced the Cubs.
1. Pittsburgh pitchers have compiled 382 strikeouts - 20 in the first two games of the series - and rank second in the National League behind Cincinnati (387).
2. Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen has multiple hits in four of his past five games. McCutchen is 4-for-13 with two homers against Jackson.
3. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo has struck out in eight of 13 plate appearances over the past three games. He did not strike out in 38 plate appearances over his previous nine contests.
PREDICTION: Pirates 5, Cubs 4