Chicago Cubs: Lackey returns for series finale against Giants

The San Francisco Giants (73-62) seek to split the series with the Chicago Cubs (87-48) at Wrigley behind one of their aces Johnny Cueto (14-5, 2.98 ERA).

Cueto didn’t get out of the fifth inning in his last start at Arizona, giving up five hits, four runs, and issuing four walks. It was Cueto’s shortest outing of the season.

“I think the pitches caught up with him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters after that game. “His command was a little off, he started missing his spots. It just got away from him.”

“It was one we definitely wanted and needed,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said of Saturday’s win. “It was good to score some runs off (Jake) Arrieta…”

Last time Cueto faced the Cubs he gave up four runs while striking out nine in a no-decision against Jason Hammel.

In 23 starts against the Cubs, Cueto is 9-8 with a 3.34 ERA and is 5-5 with a 3.22 ERA at Wrigley.

The Cubs currently lead the NL Central by 16.5 games and own the best record in the majors. They won the first two games of the series behind starts from Mike Montgomery and Jon Lester before Madison Bumgarner shut down Chicago’s prolific offense with 10 strikeouts on Saturday.

The game certainly had the implications of a playoff matchup between the two clubs.

Both Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo sat out Saturday against Bumgarner but are expected to start against Cueto.

Return

John Lackey (9-7, 3.41 ERA) gets the start this afternoon after a stint on the DL for shoulder inflammation. He is 1-1 in two career starts against the Giants, recording a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings.

The last time he faced them was in 2009 as a member of the Angels. He threw seven innings, giving up 10 hits and three runs while striking out 10.

Lackey is 6-4 with a 2.47 ERA at Wrigley this year and in day games he is 4-3 with a 3.90 ERA.

The Giants purchased the contract of veteran reliever Joe Nathan from double-A Richmond on Saturday. The Cubs released him in early August, and he could make an appearance against his former club on Sunday. He previously pitched for the Giants between 1999 and 2003 before being traded alongside Francisco Liriano to Minnesota for A.J Pierzynski and cash.

“At that time, we just couldn’t fit everybody in,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.

Nathan was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA with the Cubs before being released.

The lineups for the game are as follows:

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