05/05/10 6:13 PM ET
Bucs look to drop Cubs for sweep
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Just ask the Pirates.
A victory Thursday against the Cubs would secure the second series sweep for the Pirates this season and their first sweep against Chicago since Aug. 28-30, 2006. The Pirates also swept the Reds last month.
A sweep could not come at a better time for Pittsburgh. The team is 5-5 in its last 10 games, and went 3-7 on its recent 10-game road trip.
"There's going to be a lot of ups and downs during the season," Garrett Jones said. "It feels good to come back after a rough road trip and get two wins. We'll come back [Thursday] with the same mentality and try to get a third one."
Brian Burres will get the starting nod for Pittsburgh. The Cubs will counter with Randy Wells.
"We came back here and hit the reset button," Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton, who picked up his first win Wednesday, said. "I think that we know that we can win ballgames. It's just going out there and being relaxed and playing aggressive. We know it's early on in the year and things can happen in just one series. We're going to approach it day-by-day and take it from there."
Burres stepped into Ross Ohlendorf's vacant rotation spot last Thursday and provided the Pirates with 5 1/3 scoreless innings. In his previous start, he was knocked around for six earned runs in just four innings. Burres' only previous appearance against the Cubs came in relief. In that outing, the left-hander allowed one run on three hits in an inning of work.
As for Wells, the right-hander gave up five runs on eight hits over six-plus innings against the D-backs in his last start. He has not walked a batter in his last two starts, both wins, while striking out 14 in that stretch.
"Just coming away with a 'W' is all I care about," Wells said after his last start. "It's a tough day to pitch, and you're conscious of the wind and trying to keep the ball down and trying to keep the ball in the ballpark. Kind of forced me to make some pitches that I wasn't really proud of. All in all, the victory is what matters."
Wells is undefeated in five starts this season and the Cubs hope that streak continues. He sports a 1.42 ERA in three road starts compared to a 6.57 ERA in two games at home.
Cubs mix it up
Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano flip-flopped spots in the batting order on Wednesday. Ramirez hit sixth for the first time this season and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout and one RBI. Soriano moved up to the fifth spot and finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Pirates on the mend
Is this the last turn in the rotation for Burres? Maybe. Ohlendorf, who made a start on April 7 but hasn't pitched since because of back spasms, could be on his way back. He appeared in a Minor League rehab start Wednesday and could return to the rotation May 10.
"We've got to hold down the fort until he gets back," Ryan Church said. "It's a good sign when these guys are starting to pitch well and go deep into games."
Carlos Zambrano has made a smooth transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen. Zambrano, who made the move on April 22, has struck out three and given up four hits in 3 2/3 innings in his past three outings.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.