(SportsNetwork.com) - Gerrit Cole has never lost to the Chicago Cubs. The Pittsburgh Pirates hope the 24-year-old right-hander has another solid start against the North Siders Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The Bucs have lost their last three contests, including the opener of the three-game series Friday afternoon, 11-10, in 12 innings.
Cole pitched seven solid innings in a victory at Philadelphia Monday. He has been charged with two earned runs or less in five of his seven starts thus far this season.
Against the Cubs, Cole sports a 6-0 mark with a 2.92 ERA in six starts. That includes an 8-1 win at Wrigley Field on April 29. In that contest, Cole fanned eight over six innings. He gave up just one unearned run on three hits.
Jon Lester, who has won his last three starts and is unbeaten in four consecutive outings, counters on the hill for the Cubs. The lefty gave up three runs on five hits and four walks with six strikeouts in six innings. Lester will attempt to win four straight starts for the fifth time in his career and the first time since April 17 - May 3, 2011. He is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in three May starts after going 0-2 with a 6.23 ERA in April.
This will be Lester's second career start against the Pirates. On June 24, 2011, as a member of the Red Sox, he took the loss after yielding three runs -- two earned -- on eight hits and a walk in six innings, striking out five.
Matt Szczur drove in the winning run on Friday. In the 12th with the bases loaded and Radhames Liz (1-3) on the mound, Szczur lofted a fly ball to shallow right that should have been an easy out, but Gregory Polanco slipped on the grass and fell, with the ball dropping on the field and Starlin Castro scoring for the victory.
"I just couldn't believe it," Szczur said. "I just crossed first base and was thanking everybody."
Kris Bryant hit a three-run home run and drove in four, while Szczur drove in three for the Cubs, who have won their past five. Edwin Jackson (2-1) pitched up the win for a scoreless inning of relief.
Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run home run while Francisco Cervelli drove in four runs for the Pirates, who have lost their past three games.
"The next game is going to be fine," Cervelli said. "You have to keep working. You know how it's baseball, it's like a roller coaster."
Jeff Locke allowed five runs on six hits in just 3 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh in the start, while Kyle Hendricks allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings for Chicago.
Chicago has won five of its eight matchups with the Pirates this season. The Cubs have not won a season series against the Pirates since 2009.