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National League Preview from The Sports Network

Monday, July 30th (All times eastern)

Pittsburgh Pirates (58-43) at Chicago Cubs (42-58), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Erik Bedard (5-11, 4.32) Chicago - Justin Germano (0-1, 3.00)

(Sports Network) - Journeyman right-hander Justin Germano makes his first big- league start since 2010 tonight when the Chicago Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first of three games at Wrigley Field.

The California-born Germano, who'll turn 30 on Aug. 6, is pitching for his fifth major-league team since he was a 13th-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2004.

He reached the majors with the Padres in 2004 before subsequently working for the Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox before his contract was purchased by the Cubs on July 19.

In two major-league outings in 2012, he pitched 5 2/3 innings for the Red Sox in a 6-1 loss to the Yankees on July 7, then pitched three innings and got the loss at St. Louis for the Cubs on July 21.

Combined, he's allowed a run on 10 hits in 8 2/3 innings while walking two batters and striking out eight.

Germano has never faced the Pirates.

Pittsburgh enters the series in second place in the National League's Central Division, where it trails the Cincinnati Reds by three games.

The Reds gained a game Sunday with their 10th straight victory in Colorado, while the Pirates dropped the finale of a four-game series in Houston after winning the first three.

Houston's Jordan Schafer drove in three runs and the Astros ended a 12-game losing streak with a 9-5 win.

James McDonald's (10-5) second-half struggles continued on Sunday, as the Astros tagged him for five runs on six hits and a career-high seven walks in five innings. McDonald has pitched to an 8.91 ERA over his last four starts.

"Last couple, it's been rough," McDonald said. "I think every year I've pitched I've been in the same situation like this, where I've gotta fight my way out of some rough starts."

In Chicago, Anthony Rizzo socked a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in the rubber match of a three-game set.

Stymied by St. Louis pitching since the second inning, the Cubs clinched a series victory when Rizzo followed a leadoff single by Starlin Castro with an opposite-field blast to left off Trevor Rosenthal (0-1).

"It's nice this early in his career to get his first walk-off in big-time fashion, and a home run, too," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Off a guy throwing 97, 98 mph, to take that pitch opposite field and not try to do too much. It was awesome."

James Russell (5-0) worked around a two-out single by Yadier Molina in the top of the 10th to earn the win for the second consecutive day.

The Cubs improved to 12-3 in their last 15 home games.

Paul Maholm authored another solid outing, holding St. Louis to one run on four hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings. The veteran left-hander hasn't allowed more than one run in each of his last six starts.

Pittsburgh starts veteran Erik Bedard, who took a tough-luck loss to the Cubs in his last outing on July 23.

The 33-year-old Canadian southpaw pitched seven innings of two-hit ball while allowing a single run and striking out 11 while dropping a 2-0 decision.

The outing, which got him to exactly 100 innings for the season, lowered his earned run average from 4.55 to 4.32.

In his previous start, he allowed an earned run on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 6-2 defeat of the Colorado Rockies in July 17.

He's 1-1 in two career starts against the Cubs.

The Pirates have won four of six games between the teams in 2012, including a three-game sweep in May in Pittsburgh. The Cubs won two of three in Pittsburgh between July 23-25.

The Cubs last won the season series in 2009.

07/30 10:48:01 ET