The NL Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates continue to march through the division, and today will aim for their eighth straight road win in the continuation of a weekend set at Wrigley Field.
The Pirates will send Charlie Morton to the mound Saturday against the Chicago Cubs as the 29-year-old right-hander aims to keep his perfect road record intact. Morton, who started the season on the disabled list while recovering from right elbow surgery, is 1-0 over his two starts outside PNC Park.
Morton didn't get much work in during his most recent start, Sunday at home against Milwaukee. He allowed one unearned run in two innings, but didn't return following a 2-hour, 20-minute rain delay in Pittsburgh's 14-inning victory. Morton is 2-3 with a 5.76 ERA in six games against the Cubs.
The last time Pirates won eight straight on the road was Sept. 6-21, 1987, also an eight-game run.
The Cubs are 5-11 in starts that Edwin Jackson makes this year. The right- hander, who will be back on the hill Saturday, is coming off a victory at Seattle Sunday when he pitched six-plus innings. He's 5-2 with a 3.35 ERA in nine starts against the Pirates, but 1-2 against them this season.
On Friday, Francisco Liriano continued to dazzle in the Pirates' 6-2 win. Liriano (8-3) used 111 pitches to go the distance for only the second time in his nine-year career and first time this season. He gave up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts.
Since his call up on May 11, Liriano leads the National League in wins and, with a 2.20 earned run average, his ERA is below five for only the second time since 2008.
"This was an exclamation point to what he's been doing," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Just a very impressive outing."
The lefty's only other complete game was his no-hitter in the South Side of Chicago against the White Sox on May 3, 2011 when he was a member of the Minnesota Twins.
"It's so difficult to face him," Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro said. "He throws all his pitches the same speed with different actions."
Starling Marte helped ignite the offense for Pittsburgh, which won for the 11th time in its last 13 games. Marte had three hits and scored a pair of runs. Marte has a 10-game hitting streak.
Jeff Samardzija (5-8) lost for the first time since June 8. He gave up five runs on nine hits and five walks in six innings.
The Pirates lead the season series, 7-3.