Cubs seek to stop skid against Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs will look to avoid a fourth straight loss when they again face the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday in the third game of a four-game series at PNC Park.

The Cubs (75-63) lost 4-3 to the Pirates (67-72) on Tuesday after dropping a 12-0 decision to Pittsburgh the previous night. Chicago led 3-2 entering the eighth inning, but reliever Carl Edwards Jr. allowed two runs, spoiling a strong outing from starter Kyle Hendricks.

After the game, Hendricks said he is confident with where the Cubs stand. They lead the National League Central by 3 1/2 games over the Milwaukee Brewers.

"It's just been that kind of year, but we're good where we are right now," Hendricks said. "We just have to keep taking it day to day. Not every year is going to be like last year. I think we moved on from that. We know that. It was just such a special year for us.

"This is baseball. This is how you play. Those teams are good that we're playing against, and they're bringing their best."

The Cubs will go with left-handed starter Jose Quintana (9-11, 4.49 ERA overall) on Wednesday. After allowing six runs and nine hits in five innings against the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 25, Quintana rebounded his next time out by surrendering three runs and four hits in six innings of a 17-3 win over the Pirates on Aug. 30.

By going only six innings in his latest start, Quintana has not pitched into the seventh in his past eight starts since he threw seven shutout innings against the Baltimore Orioles on July 16.

In two career outings against the Pirates, Quintana is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA.

Pittsburgh will hope to have more success against Quintana than it did facing Hendricks on Tuesday. The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Andrew McCutchen, who went 2-for-4, was one of the few Pirates to have any success against Hendricks. He is 4-for-9 through the first two games of the series after being held without a hit in his previous two games.

McCutchen could propel the Pirates to a fifth straight win if he continues his hot streak.

Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole (11-9, 4.11 ERA) could also help when he heads to the mound looking to bounce back from a disappointing outing in his previous start.

Six days after pitching seven shutout innings against Cincinnati, Cole didn't have the same success when he again faced the Reds on Friday. Cole allowed five runs and six hits in six innings of a 7-3 loss, which marked his first defeat since Aug. 5. He was 2-0 with two no-decisions in his previous four starts.

In his two starts against the Cubs this season, Cole has allowed three runs (two earned) in a combined 13 innings.

If they remain in the lineup, Pirates right fielder Jordan Luplow and second baseman Max Moroff could build on their impressive performances from Tuesday. Luplow hit his second career home run in the second inning, and Moroff tied the score at 3 with a single in the eighth.

"It's pretty cool for us to get the opportunity to do that, and it's fun to watch," Moroff said. "Josh (Bell), Jordan and all the young guys. ... It was fun to watch us put that game together, and hopefully we can continue that."
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