Cubs-Pirates Preview

Paul Maholm has a gaudy record against the Chicago Cubs,

although he hasn’t always pitched well to achieve it. This season,

he has dominated Chicago.

Maholm has thrown 15 2-3 scoreless innings for the Pittsburgh

Pirates against the Cubs in 2011 heading into Sunday’s matchup at

PNC Park.

Pittsburgh (46-43) has ensured a winning record at the All-Star

break for the first time since 1992, when it went 49-39 en route to

a third consecutive NL East title. The Pirates haven’t won often

with Maholm (5-9, 3.08 ERA) on the roster, but that hasn’t been a

problem for him against the Cubs.

The left-hander is 8-2 despite a 5.30 ERA in 15 career outings

against Chicago.

Maholm has been sharp this year in two starts versus the Cubs,

yielding eight hits. He did not get a decision after pitching 6 2-3

innings in a 5-3 loss April 2, but notched his fifth career

complete game with a three-hitter May 28 in a 10-0 rout.

Aramis Ramirez is 0 for 5 and Alfonso Soriano has a double in

six at-bats against him this year. Those hitters gave him trouble

previously, with Ramirez going 10 for 30 with two homers before

2011 and Soriano at 8 for 28 with four homers and four walks.

Maholm is 4-2 with a 2.41 ERA in his last eight outings, a

stretch that began with the shutout against the Cubs. He yielded

three runs – one earned – over six innings to get credit for

Monday’s 5-3 victory over Houston.

The Pirates lost 6-3 Saturday, missing a chance to forge a

three-way tie atop the NL Central. They won 7-4 in Friday’s opener,

and haven’t lost a series since they were swept at Cleveland from

June 17-19.

Andrew McCutchen went 0 for 3 on Saturday, but walked to extend

his streaks of reaching base to 22 straight games at home and 23 in

a row against the Cubs. McCutchen was named to the NL All-Star team

earlier in the day to replace injured Milwaukee star Ryan

Braun.

Chicago (37-54) owns the majors’ second-worst record, but the

Cubs have been competitive lately. The club’s last 12 games have

each been decided by three runs or fewer, with Chicago losing seven

times.

The team’s latest victory, though, was overshadowed by starter

Ryan Dempster’s argument with manager Mike Quade when he was lifted

for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth inning. Dempster flung

some equipment in the dugout.

“We won the game, and that’s all that matters,” Dempster said.

“So I think anyone who’s competitive, you always want to be out

there. But at the end of the day, getting W’s is all that

matters.”

Ramon Ortiz (0-1, 3.00) will make his second start for Chicago

since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Iowa before

Tuesday’s game at Washington. Ortiz gave up three runs over six

innings in a 3-2 loss to the Nationals.

The veteran right-hander hasn’t started against the Pirates

since 2006. He allowed two runs – one earned – over four innings in

three relief appearances against them last season with the

Dodgers.

Lyle Overbay has the most experience of any Pittsburgh hitter

against Ortiz, going 7 for 19 with two homers. Overbay is 10 for 22

with four RBIs over his last six games.