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Preview: Cubs at Pirates
GAME: Chicago Cubs (84-61) at Pittsburgh Pirates (87-58)
DATE/TIME: Thursday, September 17 – 12:35 PM EST
WHERE: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
LINE: N/A TOTAL: N/A
The National League wild-card race is going down to the wire, which is when the Chicago Cubs have been at their best. The Cubs are coming off their 22nd win in their last at-bat heading into the finale of their four-game series with the host Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.
Anthony Rizzo’s sacrifice fly in the 12th inning lifted the Cubs to a 3-2 victory Wednesday, pulling them within three games of Pittsburgh for the top wild-card spot. Chicago has taken two of the first three of the set and holds a 9-6 advantage in the season series as it sends Kyle Hendricks to the mound for the finale. Pittsburgh, which trails first-place St. Louis by four games in the NL Central, counters with Charlie Morton, who is 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 home starts this season.
TV: 12:35 p.m. ET, MLBN, WGN (Chicago), ROOT (Pittsburgh)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (7-6, 4.08 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Charlie Morton (9-7, 4.02)
Hendricks matched last season’s win total with a victory at Philadelphia on Friday, allowing three runs and four hits over 6 2/3 innings for his first win since Aug. 8. The 25-year-old has not strung together consecutive quality starts since a run of three straight from June 30-July 10. Hendricks is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in three meetings with the Pirates – all this season.
Morton snapped his three-start losing streak last time out, holding Milwaukee to two runs and three hits over six frames. It was the third straight quality start for the 31-year-old and fifth in his last six outings. Morton is 3-5 with a 4.71 ERA in 13 career starts against the Cubs, whom he has yet to face this season.
1. The Cubs are 8-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series while the Pirates are 3-for-20.
2. Pittsburgh is 74-1 when leading after eight innings and 0-47 when trailing through eight.
3. Seven of the 15 meetings this season have been one-run games, including all three in the current series.
PREDICTION: Cubs 5, Pirates 4