Pirates-Cubs Preview

Even without Josh Harrison, the Pittsburgh Pirates could have little trouble earning their first road sweep if Andrew McCutchen continues producing against the Chicago Cubs.

Pittsburgh will also try to sweep a series of at least three games at Wrigley Field for the first time in over 14 years Sunday.

The Pirates (73-68) followed a four-game skid with two victories Saturday, including a 5-3 win in 11 innings in the conclusion of Friday’s suspended series opener.

Harrison had four hits, including the go-ahead single in the top of the 11th, but he exited in the bottom half with a left ankle injury.

Manager Clint Hurdle was optimistic regarding the third baseman, who has batted .471 with six extra-base hits over his last eight games.

Pittsburgh is 9-8 when he doesn’t play.

"He came down later on and would have been available to pinch hit, he said, so maybe it’s not as bad as it looked," Hurdle said. "We’ll know more tomorrow."

With Harrison out for the regularly scheduled game, McCutchen was 3 for 5 with an RBI in a 5-0 win. The reigning NL MVP has hit .400 with 11 RBIs over his last nine games against the Cubs.

The Pirates – who are a half-game back of the NL’s second wild-card spot – haven’t swept a road series of at least three games since taking three in Cincinnati to close 2013. They haven’t swept three at Wrigley since May 5-7, 2000.

Pittsburgh should especially like its chances with Gerrit Cole (7-5, 3.86 ERA) trying to stay perfect against the Cubs after winning all three career matchups with a 2.84 ERA. He’s struck out 23 over 19 innings in those games and fanned a season-high 10 while allowing three earned runs over six innings in a 5-4 victory at Chicago on April 10.

However, Cole will be looking to shake off a 5-4 loss at St. Louis on Monday in which he matched a career worst by allowing five runs in 6 1-3 innings.

The Cubs (64-78) are trying to avoid losing three straight at home for the first time since June 21-23, though they’ll likely need to execute with runners in scoring position. They are 1 for 17 in those situations in this series after going 10 for 30 in a three-game sweep of Milwaukee.

"We weren’t able to score any runs the last half of the first game and the second game, but we’ll settle back in," manager Rick Renteria said. "Quite frankly, we just didn’t do very much offensively today."

Javier Baez is 1 for 9 with seven strikeouts in the two games.

Travis Wood (8-11, 4.81) seeks his first career home victory against Pittsburgh after going 0-5 with a 4.70 ERA in six previous matchups, including five as a Cub.

He lasted just 4 2-3 innings in a 9-6 loss at St. Louis on Sunday, giving up four runs and walking three. He yielded two homers after allowing as many in his previous six starts.

"I wasn’t as crisp today," Wood said. "I was a little sporadic, wasn’t able to pound the strike zone and they made me pay for it."

McCutchen is just 5 for 25 against Wood with seven strikeouts, though he’s 3 for 7 this season with a home run.