Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant bats against Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova in the first inning on April 10, 2018 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo
SAN FRANCISCO -- Teams struggling to score runs in the first two games of the series hope to get key bats back in the lineup Wednesday afternoon when the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants wrap up their three-game set.
Right-hander Johnny Cueto (3-1, 1.95 ERA), pushed back a day to get an extra day of rest before what will be just his second start since April, is expected to duel Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery (3-3, 3.68 ERA) in the rubber game of a series in which the teams have split 2-1 and 2-0 games.
The Cubs managed a shutout win Tuesday despite getting only six hits. A throwing error by Giants catcher Nick Hundley broke a scoreless tie in the top of the seventh inning.
Hundley was playing because Buster Posey was relegated to pinch-hitting duties because of a sore hip. Posey has given up his spot in the All-Star Game next week in hopes that four days off, coupled with a cortisone shot, will resolve the issue.
In the meantime, Posey is expected to start in Wednesday's quick turnaround from a night game to an afternoon affair.
The Giants also are being cautious with Cueto, who sprained his right elbow during a brilliant five-start opening to the season in April.
He returned to allow four runs in the first inning Thursday against St. Louis but settled down to give up just one more run in a five-inning, 76-pitch outing.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced before Tuesday's game that, like Posey, the hope is to reappear from the All-Star break with a healthy Cueto. He will get at least eight days off after Wednesday's start.
"I think you know we try to give our guys the extra day," Bochy said. "Every start is going to dictate that, when he needs an extra day, if he works harder. If not, he'll go every fifth day."
Cueto has a 9-9 record in 25 career starts against the Cubs. One Chicago hitter with whom he has struggled over the years is Kris Bryant, who is 5-for-10 with a walk and hit by pitch in 12 plate appearances -- playoffs included.
Bryant missed the first two games of the series while on an injury-rehab assignment at Double-A Tennessee. He hasn't played for the Cubs since June 22 because of inflammation in his left shoulder.
But Bryant was given the green light to be reinstated from the disabled list after Tuesday's minor-league appearance. He boarded a late flight to San Francisco and is a candidate to start Wednesday.
"He had a good day," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Tuesday's report on Bryant. "We hoped it would be able to work out this way, and it looks like it's going to."
Montgomery has never beaten the Giants, going 0-1 with a 3.78 ERA in four games (two starts).
His last start against San Francisco came in 2016, a game in which he allowed a home run to Hunter Pence.