Rookie left-hander Chris Rusin can complete a sweep and pick up his first big-league win today when the Chicago Cubs visit PNC Park to wrap up a three-game series with the host Pittsburgh Pirates.
A 25-year-old Michigan native, Rusin made his first two starts in the majors on Aug. 21 and Sept. 4, and was beaten twice on the road at Milwaukee and Washington.
He allowed a hit and a run in five innings of a tough-luck 5-2 loss to the Brewers, then was battered for five runs on eight hits and a walk while retiring just three hitters in an 11-5 defeat against the Nationals.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder was drafted in the 23rd round by Oakland out of the University of Kentucky in 2008 but did not sign, then agreed to terms with the Cubs when they selected him in the fourth round a year later.
He's 22-21 in 86 career minor-league outings, including 8-9 in 26 starts this season -- one at Double-A Tennessee of the Southern League and 25 at Triple-A Iowa of the Pacific Coast League.
Pittsburgh tries to sidestep the sweep with southpaw Jeff Locke, who starts for the second time in four games this season and the sixth time in eight appearances overall.
The 24-year-old was beaten, 5-1, by Houston in his last outing - a five-inning start on Sept. 3 in which he allowed seven hits and five runs - following a pair of scoreless relief outings in August.
In 9 1/3 combined innings this summer, he's allowed eight hits and five runs while walking one batter and striking out seven.
Locke was 0-3 last season in four starts while compiling a 6.48 earned run average across 16 2/3 innings.
He has never faced the Cubs.
On Saturday, Jeff Samardzija struck out nine batters en route to his first career complete game as the Cubs downed the Pirates, 4-3.
Samardzija (9-13) allowed just three runs - two earned - on four hits and one walk to snap a four-start winless drought.
David DeJesus smacked a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth and Alfonso Soriano added a solo shot to help the Cubs secure their second straight victory on the heels of a six-game slide.
"It was a special night for him," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "It was big for him to be that so-called number one guy to step up and give us back-to- back wins."
Jason Grilli (1-5) was tagged with the loss for giving up DeJesus' base hit in the eighth. Pedro Alvarez knocked in two runs for the Pirates, who have dropped six of their last eight games.
The Pirates won six of the first nine games between the teams this season, including two of three in a series at Wrigley Field from July 30-Aug. 1. The teams split 16 games in 2011.