Pirates, Cubs tangle at Wrigley

By The Sports NetworkApril 8, 2014 at 10:58 AM
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(Sports Network) - Edwin Jackson will take the hill at Wrigley Field for the first time in 2014 on Tuesday when the Chicago Cubs begin a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Jackson's season debut ended with a no-decision after the Cubs fell to the Pirates in a 16-inning thriller. The 30-year old right-hander allowed only two hits over 5 1/3 innings of work, but also walked four batters.

Luckily for Jackson, who has gone 4-3 with a 2.01 ERA over his last seven starts on the North Side of the Windy City, Chicago's offense appears to be waking up.

Ryan Kalish went 2-for-3 with a triple and double to help the Cubs pick up an 8-3 win over Philadelphia on Sunday. Anthony Rizzo also made his mark, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.

"Offense is always contagious," said Kalish, who drove in three runs. "I know we haven't gotten off to the best start, but everyone is real close."

Chicago went 4-for-7 with runners in scoring position, while holding the Phillies to only one hit in 15 at bats with RISP. Emilio Bonifacio continued his red-hot start to the season, going 2-for-4 to remain at a .500 batting average. Shortstop Starlin Castro also posted his second RBI of the campaign in the victory.

"It's awesome," Castro said of the Cubs' offense waking up. "We've been waiting for that for a long time. Today was a really good day."

Bonifacio went 11-for-16 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored last week versus Pittsburgh, but the rest of the Cubs' offense had very little success.

Chicago will try to keep the ball rolling as it faces one of the hottest pitchers in baseball. Since the start of spring training, Charlie Morton has allowed only one earned run and just 14 baserunners in 17 innings. The 30-year old righty set a new career-low with a 3.26 ERA in 2013 and held the Cubs scoreless for six innings in his 2014 debut.

"They're going to stack left-handers against Charlie," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Everybody that's got 'em will have 'em in the lineup. He knows that. I think he's past the point of being concerned about what left-handers are hitting against him."

Chicago's manager Rick Renteria used six left-handed hitters the first time his club faced Morton this season.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is coming off of a 2-1 decision over St. Louis which gave the Pirates the series win. In just his third game of the season, Tony Sanchez came up with a clutch RBI double in the seventh inning to break a 1-1 tie and the Pirates held on from there.

Starling Marte reached safely on a bunt to improve his average to a team-best .308.

Despite playing in only three games, Sanchez is pacing Pittsburgh with four RBI, while Pedro Alvarez has been the best power option with two of his three hits resulting in home runs. Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen is off to a slow start, going just 5-for-23 with six strikeouts.

McCutchen is 8-for-21 with two home runs and five walks versus Jackson in his career. The reigning NL MVP also owns a .488 on-base percentage at Wrigley Field.

The Pirates took two of three from the Cubs last week.


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