Game Eighty-Five: Cubs (43-41) vs. Pirates (38-47)
Game Time – 6:05pm C.T. Comcast Sports Net, WGN Radio, XM Radio Channel 184
Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Jason Marquis (6-4, 3.31/1.21) vs. Paul Maholm (4-11, 4.74/1.34)
The Cubs open their last series of the first half tonight in Pittsburgh against the red hot Pirates. The Pirates just finished a 4-game series at PNC Park against the Brewers and they won the last 3 games of the series. They are 7-3 in their last 10, second only to the Cubs, 8-2, for the best 10-game stretch in the National League. The Cubs are 3-3 against the Pirates this year and 2-1 at PNC Park. If Lou Piniella’s crew is to finish the first half over .500 they will have to play better than they did the last 4 games against the Nationals. And it all starts with Jason Marquis. Jason Marquis is coming off his best start since he threw a complete game against the Pirates on May 9th. Marquis held the Brewers to just 1 run on 4 hits in 7 innings of work, walked 1 and struck out 5 while tying his season high of 12 ground ball outs. Marquis has to keep the ball down tonight against a Pirates offense that is….well, on fire.
Marquis beat the Pirates in back-to-back outings to start the month of May. He threw a complete game shutout against them at Wrigley on May 9th and allowed just 1 run on 4 hits in 8 innings on May 2nd in Pittsburgh. Marquis did not walk a single batter in either of those games….17 innings and will need a similar performance tonight. Marquis is 5-4 with a 3.21 ERA against the Pirates in his career.
The Cubs have never beaten Paul Maholm (3-0 with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP) and one of his four wins on the season came against the Cubs on May 10th at Wrigley. He gave up 4 runs on 7 hits in 7 1/3 innings (at the time his longest outing of the season) but gave up 3 home runs on the afternoon (Aramis Ramirez, Angel Pagan and Michael Barrett). Maholm beat Carlos Zambrano, 6-4.
Maholm is coming off a loss to the Nationals on July 1st. He gave up 3 runs on 9 hits in 7 innings of work, struck out 5 and walked 1. He finished June with a 2-3 record and a 3.74 ERA. The Cubs will have opportunities, they just have to take advantage. Maholm is 2-6 in 9 starts at PNC this season with a 4.88 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP, opponents are hitting .269 against him.
Adam LaRoche is 16 for his last 32 with 5 doubles, 5 home runs (2 on Thursday against Ben Sheets) and 11 RBI’s in his last 8 games. He was 7-for-15 with 3 home runs, 3 doubles and 6 RBI’s in the 4 games against the Brewers.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….