(Sports Network) - Coming off the best start of his young career, rookie
Gerrit Cole looks to pitch the Pittsburgh Pirates to another victory on
Saturday night in the third contest of a four-game set with the Chicago Cubs.
The 23-year-old Cole is 7-7 with a 3.48 earned run average this year in 16
starts, allowing three earned runs or fewer in all but one of those outings.
He threw the first scoreless start of his career on Monday versus Texas,
outdueling Yu Darvish over seven innings in a 1-0 win. Cole scattered three
hits and two walks while fanning a career-high nine batters.
"He was fantastic tonight. ... He had swing-and-miss stuff. He also got them
early, making quality pitches in quality locations," Pirates manager Clint
The right-handed Cole will face the Cubs for the first time in his career
looking to improve his 4.27 home ERA. The top pick of the 2011 draft has
logged a 2.29 ERA on the road.
Looking to spoil Pittsburgh's march towards a playoff spot will be Scott
Baker, who makes his second start for the Cubs.
Baker had not made a Major League start since Aug. 8, 2011 nor pitched in a
game since Sept. 24 of that year due to Tommy John surgery before facing
Milwaukee on Sunday. He did not get a decision in the 3-1 loss but allowed
just two hits and one walk over five innings and 55 pitches.
"There were some emotions there. It's been a long road and I was happy my
family was here to share this moment because they're just as much a part of
this as I am," the right-handed Baker said.
A former Minnesota Twin to begin his career, the 31-year-old Baker faces the
Pirates for the first time.
The Cubs rallied for a 5-4 win over the Pirates on Friday, dropping Pittsburgh
into second place in the NL Central. The Bucs trail the St. Louis Cardinals,
who beat Seattle in extra innings on Friday, by a game for first place, but
are still 2 1/2 games up on Cincinnati for the first wild card spot.
The Pirates failed to earn a fifth straight win despite getting three straight
home runs in the fourth inning from Pedro Alvarez, Russell Martin and Garrett
Jones. Alvarez's 33rd homer of the season was of the inside-the-park variety.
Martin followed by sending the first pitch he saw over the left-field wall and
Jones tied the game two pitches later.
It was the first time that Pittsburgh had hit three straight homers in one
inning since Aug. 20, 2003. The Pirates hadn't done it on the road since July
6, 1955 against the Brooklyn Dodgers.
"Obviously that got us going and whenever something like that happens it's a
huge deal," said Alvarez. "We just couldn't turn that energy into a win
Anthony Rizzo rallied the Cubs with a two-run homer in the seventh inning, his
22nd of the year.
"I think it was huge for him and hopefully it carries him for the next couple
of weeks here," said Chicago manager Dale Sveum about Rizzo. "He had some real
nice swings tonight so it would be nice to see that confidence build."
Brian Bogusevic was 3-for-4 with a two-run home run for the Cubs, who avoided
a third straight loss.
The Cubs have won four of their last six versus the Pirates are losing six of
eight to begin the season series.
The Sports Network