Matt Garza will try to bounce back from his worst start of the season today and help the Cubs snap an 11-game losing streak when they conclude a three-game series against the Pirates.
Garza, who gave up seven runs over three innings on Monday in Houston, is 0-1 over his last three outings. He's 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two lifetime games against the Pirates.
The Cubs not only need Garza to bounce back, but have to get their offense together. Dale Sveum's team has scored a total of four runs over their last four contests. Their 11-game skid is just the 15th double-digit losing streak in club history, the first since the Cubs dropped their first 14 games of the 1997 campaign, which also represents the longest losing streak in franchise history.
The problem has been hitting in clutch situations. The Cubs have gone 5-for-44 with men in scoring position thus far during this six-game road trip, which ends this afternoon.
Left-hander Erik Bedard, who is 0-1 over his last three appearances, gets the start for Pittsburgh. He's given up four runs in each of his last two games and will be facing the Cubs for the first time in his career.
Saturday produced probably the toughest loss thus far during the current slide for the Cubs. Matt Hague was hit by a pitch from Cubs reliever Rafael Dolis (2-4) with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, giving Pittsburgh a rather painful 3-2 victor.
"Yeah, it hurt," Hague said of taking the game-winning pitch right in the back. "Once I got to first base and everyone kept punching me right where I got hit, it didn't feel good. I was going to make him (Dolis) throw a strike, and I was just trying to put a good at-bat together and he ended up hitting me."
Jose Tabata started the rally with a single up the middle and Josh Harrison walked. Andrew McCutchen then struck out and Pedro Alvarez flied out, which allowed Tabata to tag up and go to third. Harrison hustled to second on defensive indifference and Neil Walker drew a walk to load the bases,
Hague battled Dolis to a full count before being drilled by a 96 mile-per-hour fastball to give his team the victory in walkoff fashion and make a winner out of Joel Hanrahan (2-0), who worked a perfect top of the inning.
Alvarez had an RBI single and Walker knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly for the Pirates.
Alfonso Soriano crushed a solo homer and Starlin Castro added an RBI triple for the Cubs.
McCutchen (2-for-3) has reached base safely in 33 consecutive games against the Cubs and 39 of his 42 career contests against Chicago.
The Pirates have won four of the last five meetings.