Pirates, Cubs kick off set at Wrigley Field

Francisco Liriano tries to stop a two-start losing streak on Friday when the Pittsburgh Pirates open a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Liriano may have been handed a loss on Saturday against Cincinnati, but it was no fault of his own, as he allowed just a run and four hits, while striking out 11 in six innings of a 2-0 loss.

He is 3-2 on the year with a 2.17 ERA.

"Yeah, we'll go there," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said when asked if that was Liriano's best start to date. "But wow, he was really good. He competes out there."

Liriano has faced the Cubs twice and is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA.

Pittsburgh enters this series stumbling a bit after being swept in a three- game set by the Atlanta Braves that culminated with it nearly getting no-hit in a 5-0 loss on Wednesday.

Pinch-hitter Brandon Inge broke Julio Teheran's bid at history with two outs in the eighth, but that would be the only hit for the Pirates, who committed three errors and fell for the fifth time in six tries.

"These guys are making every effort to get better results, and right now we're not getting them," Hurdle said. "Adversity's going to knock on your door throughout the season, and for the last eight days, we've had to do some yard work all over the place, especially off the mound. Our hitters are aware of the role they play, and they're going to continue working at it, and they're going to get better."

To make matters worse, Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez (6-4) left the game with one out in the first inning with tightness in his left forearm. He gave up one run on two hits before exiting.

Chicago, meanwhile, snapped a three-game losing streak on Wednesday, as Anthony Rizzo's three-run double in the top of the 10th inning lifted the Cubs over the LA Angels of Anaheim, 8-6.

"Just to be in that situation, there's nothing to lose. I got a good pitch to hit," Rizzo said. "It feels good to get the win."

Chicago starter Matt Garza allowed four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, while Kevin Gregg picked up the win after giving up one run over 1 1/3 innings of relief.

Getting the call for the Cubs on Friday will be lefty Travis Wood, who is 5-3 with a 2.75 ERA. Wood defeated the White Sox last Thursday, holding them to a pair of runs and five hits in six innings.

He even helped his own cause at the plate with a grand slam. In fact, Cubs pitchers have produced 20 RBI this season.

"We take pride in our hitting and being able to help ourselves out," Wood said after his last start. "We just want to be able to handle the bat so we're not a dead out. We can try to go out there and eventually help ourselves out and get something going."

Wood tossed six scoreless innings to beat the Pirates earlier in the year and is 4-4 in eight games (7 starts) against them with a 3.72 ERA.

The Pirates have won four of six from the Cubs this season.