The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be in good position to bounce back from a rare home series loss considering the last-place Chicago Cubs are coming to town.
The Cubs have other ideas following their best homestand of the season.
As the Pirates look to avoid their longest home losing streak since late April, Chicago tries to win for the sixth time in seven games Monday night.
Pittsburgh (29-33) took the series opener versus NL Central-leading Milwaukee before dropping the last two at PNC Park. Andrew McCutchen had two of the team's five hits in Sunday's 1-0 defeat and went 5 for 12 with three extra-base hits in the series.
After winning 10 of 15 in Pittsburgh heading into the set, the Pirates suffered their first home series loss since dropping the final three of a four-game set to Cincinnati from April 21-24.
"We've got to get rid of it, and got to move on," manager Clint Hurdle told the team's official website. "That's the challenge of the game at this level: to stay after it."
Hurdle's club has won six of its last seven series with the Cubs (25-35), winning two of three games in both this season. Chicago hasn't won a road series all season and has lost nine of 11 games in Pittsburgh while getting held to 21 runs and a .199 average.
That would seem to favor Pirates starter Charlie Morton (2-7, 3.31 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last four home matchups with the Cubs. He threw six shutout innings against them at PNC Park in a 4-3, 16-inning win April 2, though he was tagged for six runs in six innings of a 7-6 victory in Chicago six days later.
Morton didn't get a decision in either game but went on to lose his first six of the season before going 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in his last three starts. He allowed two runs and three hits with a career high-tying nine strikeouts over five innings in a 10-3 win at San Diego last Monday.
The right-hander has a 2.72 ERA in his last nine outings against the Cubs, but they have 25 extra-base hits over their last five games and have shown signs of life.
Chicago had been unbeaten on a six-game homestand, notching a season-high five-game winning streak, before blowing a one-run lead in the eighth inning to lose the finale 4-3 to Miami on Sunday.
"I think these guys should keep their heads up," manager Rick Renteria said. "They're very disappointed right now because we felt like we were on the cusp of being able to have a perfect homestand."
Emilio Bonifacio had three hits after notching his first homer of the season Saturday, and he went 11 for 16 in the season-opening series in Pittsburgh.
Anthony Rizzo, who batted .421 with two homers on the homestand before going hitless Sunday, has hit .375 against the Pirates this season but is 2 for 12 lifetime off Morton.
Edwin Jackson (4-5, 4.59) opposed Morton in both April meetings, allowing one earned run over 5 1-3 innings at Pittsburgh before surrendering six runs over 4 2-3 innings at Wrigley and not getting a decision.
The right-hander has given up three earned runs or less in five of his last six starts. He beat the Mets on Wednesday despite giving up four runs - one earned - and a season-high five walks in five innings of a 5-4 win.
Jackson is 6-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 12 starts versus Pittsburgh, but McCutchen is 7 for 12 in their matchups. McCutchen is 3 for 23 in his last seven games against the Cubs.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.