06/29/10 2:24 AM ET
Pirates aim to continue success against Cubs
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
Monday's win ended Pittsburgh's 17-game road losing streak. Prior to Monday, the Pirates' last road win was May 25 in Cincinnati. Before Paul Maholm got the "W" on Monday, the last time a Pirates starter snagged a win on the road was May 18 in Philadelphia, when Zach Duke beat Roy Halladay.
It isn't like the Pirates have been much better at home, of course. The Bucs are 6-24 over their past 30 games regardless of venue and are already nine games worse than they were at this point a season ago.
"We're relying on the staff to keep them going. It's tough," manager John Russell said. "Nobody is happy with it. We've seen some very good things. It's a very young team. Unfortunately, they are going to play like a young team at times. The biggest thing is we've got to find some ways to win and eliminate some of the mistakes. I've been very pleased with some of the things these guys have done, but also very discouraged with some of the things that continue to hold us back."
The Pirates have had success against the Cubs and at Wrigley Field so far this season. Monday's win improved Pittsburgh to 8-2 against Chicago and 3-1 in The Friendly Confines. The Bucs are 18-48 against everyone else and 7-30 on the road outside of Wrigley.
"They have very young talent, a very good team," Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "I think they play hard against us. We can't let them beat us again. We don't want to let them beat us. We want to play hard and win the game."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella isn't ready to give up on the season quite yet, perhaps taking some inspiration from the abrupt turnaround across town.
"I know we've struggled but I know other teams in the National League and the American League have improved," Piniella said. "I'm optimistic. We have to do it on the field. We have to play better than we have. The two games we played against the White Sox [Saturday and Sunday] ... were games if we can duplicate with consistency, we'll come out on the top end more than the bottom end."
Jeff Karstens battles Ted Lilly in the middle game of the series.
Pirates: Bucs need to clean up the defense
Amid the myriad of things the Pirates have done poorly of late is their play on defense. After committing four errors in the series finale in Oakland on Sunday, the Bucs committed another one Monday. They have now committed an error in six of their past seven games. Pittsburgh is now second in the NL in errors and last in double plays turned.
Cubs: Lilly looks for success at home
Lilly is hoping his start at Wrigley looks a lot less like the last one he made at home and more like the one before that. Lilly has experienced the extreme ends of the spectrum in his past two home starts, carrying a no-hitter into the ninth against the White Sox on June 13 and then getting knocked around for eight runs (six earned) against the Angels on June 19. Lilly's ERA at Wrigley is 4.12 this season, compared to 2.45 on the road.
Monday's win clinched the season series for Pittsburgh over Chicago for the second time in the past nine seasons. The Bucs went 9-6 against the Cubs in 2006. The Pirates' eight wins this season against the Cubs match their total from the past two seasons, when they won eight of 32. ... Chicago's loss in Monday's series opener was its 10th straight loss in a series opener. ... Chicago celebrated the 50th anniversary of legendary Cubs third baseman Ron Santo's Major League debut on Monday night.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.