© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
PrintPrint

08/30/10 9:01 PM ET

Cubs look to continue turnaround against Pirates

Now that's how you start a homestand. The Cubs shook off their dubious recent history with the Pirates to seize a 14-2 victory in Monday's series opener, and now they find themselves trying to stay greedy. Pittsburgh and Chicago will meet again Tuesday at Wrigley Field, and the Cubs will be hoping for more of the same.

"I decided [Monday], the heck with what's happened in the past," said interim manager Mike Quade, who took over for the retired Lou Piniella. "Let me prepare like I did for Washington and everything else. These guys know. They don't need any special wake up -- that these guys have had a good year against us, and let's turn that around."

The Cubs won just three of their first 12 games against the Pirates this season, but they erased some of that stigma by virtue of Monday's one-sided win. Quade, meanwhile, finds himself trying to guide the Cubs through the final few weeks of a tumultuous season without becoming overly concerned about his own tenuous situation.

Chicago is casting about for a new manager, and former Cub Ryne Sandberg -- the current manager for Triple-A Iowa -- is regarded as a potential front-runner. Quade doesn't want to think about that too much, though, and he doesn't want to put pressure on his team by placing his own interests ahead of player development down the stretch.

"I hope the overall picture is taken into account, but I'm not doing the evaluation," said Quade, "Some of that I'm sure will be in the mix. There's a lot of good baseball people out there, and I get a chance to do this first hand in front of people. We'll try to win every ballgame, obviously, and I'm sure wins and losses will be part of it."

The Pirates are going through a similar process, albeit one with the same manager. John Russell, Pittsburgh's field boss, is still trying to extract whatever positives he can take from another losing season. Along those lines, he said that Garrett Jones, who had two hits on Monday night, is doing his best to grow and mature as a player.

"He's still in a little bit of a streaky mode," said Russell. "We need to get him to where he stays a little more consistent. When we look at his numbers at the end of the year, they're going to look pretty good. He's going to have home runs. He's going to have RBIs. His average is going to be pretty good.

"I think people forget that this is his first full year in the big leagues, too, because of how old he is. He's still going through a lot of the adjustments that a 24-year-old goes through, even though he's 29. As he continues to get more at-bats, he's going to continue to get better."

The Cubs will hand the ball to Ryan Dempster in Tuesday's middle act, and the Pirates will counter with Jeff Karstens. Karstens has lost eight straight decisions -- a run that includes defeats in seven of his past eight outings -- and hasn't won since June 19, when the Pirates pushed him to a 6-4 victory over Cleveland.

Pirates: Jones searching for consistency
Jones hit .272 with 11 home runs before the All-Star break, posting a stat line that wasn't far removed from his breakout performance from last year. Jones went into Monday's game batting just .187 since the intermission, and Russell said that the next step for the slugger is somehow finding a consistent level of play.

"You look up and look at what he does and it's a pretty good year. But he seems to put it together quickly and then he'll fade for a little bit," he said. "He's a real prideful player. The kid busts his [rear end] everyday. When he's not feeling right at the plate, I think he tries to do too much mentally to try and get himself right as opposed to relaxing."

Cubs: Dempster riding a hot streak
Dempster has won four straight decisions, and he has just one loss in his past 10 outings. The right-hander has pitched to a 5-1 record and a 3.00 ERA in nine starts since the season's intermission, giving Quade and the win-hungry Cubs a semblance of consistency every time he's taken the mound.

"I'm in search of the perfect game every night," said Quade of his managerial approach, well-suited to a struggling team. "Maybe I'm nuts, but I think that's the way we approach things. And when it does happen and you play errorless ball and [make] no mistakes, you usually give yourself a chance to win -- unless your pitcher has a rough night."

Worth noting
Chicago catcher Geovany Soto underwent a MRI on his right knee on Monday. Soto was diagnosed with fluid on the knee and is currently listed as day-to-day. ... The Cubs honored 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Andre Dawson -- who won the 1987 MVP Award for Chicago -- in a pregame ceremony on Monday. ... Chicago's Carlos Zambrano hit his 21st career home run on Monday, adding to his own franchise record for homers by a pitcher. ... The Pirates are 10 games behind last year's pace, which saw them finish with a 62-99 record. ... Pittsburgh has homered in four of its past five games, with Monday serving as the lone exception.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


MLB.com