Slumping Pirates hope rookie Kingham comes through vs. Cubs

The Pittsburgh Pirates can only hope for as much luck with a spot starter Tuesday as the Chicago Cubs had with one Monday.

In the first game of a three-game series at PNC Park, Mike Montgomery pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and combined with four relievers for a 7-0 trouncing of the Pirates, who had just two baserunners, none in scoring position.

On Tuesday, rookie Nick Kingham will get a spot start for the Pirates (28-25) against the Cubs (28-22). Pittsburgh Opening Day starter Ivan Nova, who had been slated for Tuesday, was placed on the 10-day disabled list Monday because of a sprained right (throwing) ring finger. Since the All-Star break last year, Nova is 4-13 in 24 starts with a 5.48 ERA, 1.49 WHIP and 24 homers allowed.

Kingham (2-1, 3.44 ERA) was summoned from Triple-A Indianapolis for the third time this season and will make his fourth major league start.

He made a big splash, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning on April 29 against Washington in his big league debut. He also beat Milwaukee and gave up three runs in six innings in a loss to San Diego.

“I just want to be consistent with all my pitches, have command with the fastball,” Kingham said Monday. “Everything works off (the fastball command) — establish that early in the game, let everything work off of that and just be consistent with my pitches whatever the situation might be in.”

Kingham is scheduled to face left-handed veteran Jon Lester (4-2, 2.37 ERA).

Pittsburgh might have sidestepped another pitching problem. Closer Felipe Vazquez reported forearm discomfort after Sunday’s game, but Monday he told reporters he should be fine and ready for Tuesday’s game after taking Monday off.

The Cubs made one move pregame, recalling right-hander Luke Farrell from Triple-A Iowa — he pitched perfect ninth inning on Monday — and optioning right-hander Justin Hancock to Iowa.

The Cubs got to their hotel in Pittsburgh at about 4 a.m. Monday, before a 1:35 p.m. game time, after playing at home in the Sunday night game. Manager Joe Maddon called for Major League Baseball to be more helpful in scheduling.

“I just think that, if you’re playing the Sunday night game — which is fine, wonderful — there’s got to be some built-in concessions for Monday,” Maddon said before the game.

Lester and the Cubs should be able to get caught up on rest by Tuesday evening after the short night and holiday matinee.

Lester is 3-2 with a 1.69 ERA in his past seven starts and is coming off a tough-luck loss. He allowed one run and six hits in seven innings Tuesday but lost 1-0 to Cleveland.

“He’s a pretty motivated guy,” Maddon said of Lester, who has given up two or fewer runs in five straight starts. “The thing about Jon that stands out to me is repetition of delivery, and he’s learned to pitch without that 95, 96 (mph) that he used to have. He doesn’t have to have overt high levels of miles per hour — he just needs to know where the ball is going. He repeats his delivery so well, and that’s one of the reasons he’s so successful.”

Against the Pirates, Lester is 5-5 with a 3.50 ERA in 13 career regular-season starts.