Cubs-Pirates Preview

The Pittsburgh Pirates are assured of a winning record at the

All-Star break for the first time in 19 years.

They are looking for more.

They’ll send 11-game winner Kevin Correia to the mound Saturday

night as they continue a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs.

Pittsburgh (46-42) rallied for a 7-4 victory Friday, ensuring

that the Pirates will have a winning record at the All-Star break

for the first time since 1992, when they were 49-39 en route to a

third consecutive NL East title. They have since set a record for

major North American professional sports with 18 consecutive losing


The Pirates trail first-place Milwaukee by one game, and can

move atop the NL Central at the break with two more wins and one

loss by the Brewers.

“I’ve learned from experience that you don’t put expectations on

people,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You draw up a plan and follow

that plan. I don’t what’s going to happen from here on in. I’m not

an expert. My job is just to get ready to play. Where that’s going

to take us, I don’t know.”

Hurdle started four rookies Friday and one of them, little-known

catcher Mike McKenry, came through with his first major league

homer – a go-ahead three-run shot in the eighth inning off Carlos


“I don’t know about being the hero,” McKenry said. “There were

eight other innings where guys just battled their brains out.”

Correia (11-6, 3.74 ERA) will try to join Atlanta’s Jair

Jurrjens and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia as the majors’ only 12-game

winners. He has posted a 4.50 ERA in winning his last three


The right-hander allowed two runs over six innings Sunday to

record a 10-2 victory at Washington.

Correia is 3-0 with a 3.31 ERA in six career starts against the

Cubs, winning his last three – two this year. He’s fared well

against Aramis Ramirez (3 for 14) and Alfonso Soriano (2 for


The Cubs (36-54) fell to 1-4 on this road trip one night after

rallying from eight runs down for a 10-9 victory over the

Nationals. Starlin Castro is 2 for 15 in the last four meetings

with Pittsburgh after going 8 for 13 in a season-opening three-game


Pittsburgh is 5-2 this year against Chicago, which has lost six

of its last seven at PNC Park.

Andrew McCutchen homered and walked Friday, extending his streak

of reaching base to 21 straight home games. He’s hitting .377 with

13 RBIs in that span.

Ryan Dempster (5-6, 4.99) will get the ball Saturday for

Chicago. He’s been pitching better lately, posting a 1.95 ERA over

his last five starts.

The veteran right-hander was scratched from his start Monday

night at Washington because of back pain, but appears ready after a

pre-game workout Friday. Dempster allowed one run over eight

innings but did not get a decision in his last outing, a 2-1 win

over San Francisco on June 29.

Dempster has split two starts against the Pirates this year,

ending a four-game losing streak in the series May 29 by giving up

two runs over six innings in a 3-2 victory.

McCutchen is 6 for 18 against him and Neil Walker is 6 for 10

with two doubles and a homer.