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Preview: Pirates (64-62) at Cubs (55-71)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 2
Venue: Wrigley Field
Date: June 21, 2014 7:15 PM EDT

The Chicago Cubs may have started off too poorly for their recent surge to mean much in the NL Central. However, they could soon overtake the Pittsburgh Pirates if they continue to play well.

Starlin Castro will try to continue his hot stretch Saturday night as Chicago looks to clinch its fourth home series victory in its last five.

The Cubs (31-40) have won nine of 11 at home after starting 7-12 at Wrigley Field, and they're an NL-best 18-13 since May 17.

"This is the nicest I've felt about this team since I've been here," Anthony Rizzo said.

The Cubs' 96-136 record over Rizzo's first two seasons with them was baseball's second-worst behind Houston.


While Chicago still sits in last place in the division, the club is three games back of Pittsburgh for fourth.

Castro hit his 11th home run of the season - just three shy of his career-high total from 2012 - in a 6-3 win in Friday's series opener. He's batting .396 over his last 13 games with four homers and 14 RBIs and is also hitting .406 with 11 RBIs in his last eight matchups with the Pirates.

Chicago has won four of five while posting a 1.80 ERA in those victories. Travis Wood (7-5, 4.48 ERA) looks for his sixth victory in eight starts after his most impressive outing of the season.

The left-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning Sunday against Philadelphia, ultimately allowing three hits over eight innings in a 3-0 road victory.

"It's what we expect out of him every time," Rizzo, who has 17 RBIs over his last 22 games, told the team's official website. "He's going to go out, throw strikes, usually work at a pretty fast tempo, and it's nice to play behind him."

Wood gave up three runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 7-3 win over the Pirates on June 10, improving to 3-2 with a 2.13 ERA over his last seven games - six starts - against them.

Pittsburgh (35-38) starters have struggled lately, surrendering 19 runs over 20 1-3 innings in the last four games. Charlie Morton was charged with all six runs Friday in six innings.

Vance Worley (0-0, 0.00) looks to follow up a strong Pirates debut after he was recalled from Triple-A to fill in for the injured Francisco Liriano at Miami on Sunday. He left with a 2-0 lead after throwing seven scoreless innings, but didn't receive a decision in the 3-2 loss.

Worley, who was 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in 10 starts for Minnesota in 2013, has limited the Cubs to two runs over 15 innings in two matchups.

Rookie Gregory Polanco is hitting .367 with nine runs, becoming the first NL player to open his career with a 10-game hitting streak since Juan Pierre hit safely in his first 16 for Colorado in 2000.

Meanwhile, Starling Marte was 0 for 4 Friday after batting .413 during a 10-game hitting streak.

Pedro Alvarez is 1 for 18 against Wood with seven strikeouts, while Andrew McCutchen is 4 for 23.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Pirates at Cubs
Fri, Jun 20 Final 3 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps
Pirates at Cubs
Sat, Jun 21 Final 5 to 3
 Boxscores    Recaps

 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  -120   +135   8.5 
 CHC  +110   -155   

 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  -120   +125   8.5 
 CHC  +110   -145   

 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PIT  51%   79%   59% 
 CHC  49%   21%   41% 

 Jun 20, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 3 Over: 9 
 CHC 6 Cover: +110 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 12, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 CHC 0 Under: 4 
 PIT 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 11, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 CHC 2 Under: 6 
 PIT 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 10, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 CHC 7 Cover: +160 
 PIT 3 Over: 10 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jun 9, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 CHC 2 Over: 8 
 PIT 6 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 10, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 5 Cover: +100 
 CHC 4 Over: 9 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 9, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 5 Over: 12 
 CHC 7 Cover: +105 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 8, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 7 Cover: +100 
 CHC 6 Over: 13 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 3, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 CHC 3 Cover: +145 
 PIT 2 Under: 5 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Apr 2, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 CHC 3 Push: 7 
 PIT 4 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps

 Saturday, Jun 21
    Orioles at Yankees
1:05 PM EDT
    Mariners at Royals
2:10 PM EDT
    White Sox at Twins
2:10 PM EDT
    Red Sox at Athletics
4:05 PM EDT
    Mets at Marlins
4:10 PM EDT
    Blue Jays at Reds
4:10 PM EDT
    Phillies at Cardinals
4:10 PM EDT
    Brewers at Rockies
4:10 PM EDT
    Astros at Rays
4:10 PM EDT
    Tigers at Indians
7:15 PM EDT
    Braves at Nationals
7:15 PM EDT
    Pirates at Cubs
7:15 PM EDT
    Rangers at Angels
10:05 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Padres
10:10 PM EDT
    Giants at Diamondbacks
10:10 PM EDT
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