Pirates aim to avoid .500 mark in finale with Cubs

Veteran right-hander Kevin Correia can keep the Pittsburgh Pirates above .500 Monday when they visit Wrigley Field for the finale of a four-game series with the host Chicago Cubs.

Pittsburgh, which led the National League's Central Division earlier this season and was in a close race with St. Louis and Cincinnati through much of the summer, has faded badly in recent weeks and fallen behind Milwaukee into fourth - 14 games in back of the Reds.

The Pirates, which trail the NL's second wild card spot by three games, were dropped within a game of .500 in Sunday's third game with the Cubs, in which they lost a 13-9 decision.

Correia, who was 12-11 in his initial season with the Pirates in 2011, got to 10-8 with a Sept. 5 defeat of Houston before dropping a 5-3 decision to the Reds in Cincinnati on Sept. 11.

He's 3-3 in his last 10 appearances - in which the Pirates are 4-6 - while his earned run average has ticked slightly upward from 4.24 to 4.29.

He's 4-4 in 14 career meetings with the Cubs with a 5.53 ERA in 55 1/3 innings.

Correia won a 3-2 decision over the Cubs in their last get-together on July 25 in Pittsburgh, where he allowed two runs on four hits in six innings.

Chicago opposes him with lefty Travis Wood, a 25-year-old who's won two straight starts, including one at Pittsburgh.

The Arkansas native, who's 3-3 in six career meetings with the Pirates, allowed a single hit in six scoreless innings with five strikeouts while winning a 12-2 decision.

He followed it up with a 5-1 decision at Houston five days later, scattering four hits and giving up a single run in 7 2/3 innings with six strikeouts.

The two wins signaled the end of a 10-start drought in which Wood had gone 0-8, though he'd allowed three earned runs or less six times.

On Sunday, Anthony Rizzo smacked two homers, including the go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning, as the Cubs downed the Pirates, 13-9.

With the bases loaded and none away in the sixth, Jared Hughes (2-2) relieved Rick van den Hurk and allowed an RBI single to Darwin Barney. Rizzo stepped up next and pulverized a grand slam deep into the right-center field bleachers for a 10-9 Cubs lead.

Rizzo drove in six and scored three runs, Alfonso Soriano tallied three hits, two RBI and a run scored, Joe Mather hit a solo shot and Barney recorded two hits, scored three runs and drove in an run for Chicago, which has won seven of its last nine games.

Jeff Beliveau (1-0) picked up the final two outs in the visitors sixth for the win.

Pedro Alvarez cracked a pair of homers and racked up five RBI for the Pirates, who have dropped eight of their last nine contests.

The Pirates and Cubs split their first 12 games of the season in 2012, before Chicago won two of three to begin this series. The teams split 16 games in 2011.