PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 25: Neil Walker #18 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs on July 25, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Cubs Vs. Pirates: Bucs Avoid Sweep, Win 3-2

Neil Walker and Michael McKenry homered to help carry the Pirates to a 3-2 win over the Cubs Wednesday.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates Recap: Home Runs Key Bucs' 3-2 Win, Avoiding Sweep

The Pirates avoided a sweep by the Chicago Cubs before a large weekday-afternoon crowd at PNC Park Wednesday, beating Chicago 3-2 thanks in part to home runs by Neil Walker and Michael McKenry.

The Cubs' Anthony Rizzo homered off Kevin Correia (who was otherwise effective) in the first, but Walker responded to tie the game in the bottom of the inning. The Cubs then took a 2-1 lead in the third as David DeJesus narrowly missed a home run (a fan interfered with his shot to center, and the call on the field of a ground-rule double was upheld after review) but came home on Rizzo's single. But in the fifth, McKenry blasted a ball that hit the foul pole in left. The Pirates took the lead in the next inning when Garrett Jones doubled to bring home Alex Presley. Jared Hughes, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan all pitched scoreless innings to end it.

The Pirates are now two games behind the Reds in the N.L. Central. Cincinnati plays the Astros in Houston Wednesday night.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates Preview: Pittsburgh Looking To Avoid The Sweep

The Pittsburgh Pirates have slipped into second place in the NL Central. On Wednesday afternoon they will look to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs.

Kevin Correia will start for the Buccos. The right-hander has won five of his last six starts, and a Wednesday win would make it five in a row, a career first. He gave up two runs over six and a third innings in his last outing against Chicago, on May 26.

Ryan Dempster is still a Cub after rejecting a deal that would have sent him to the Braves. He makes his 16th start of the season. Sporting a 2.11 ERA, the veteran righty has been a bright spot for the struggling Cubs. After five straight starts in which he did not allow a single run, he gave up four in a loss to the Cardinals in his last outing.

The Pirates' lineup looks like this:

Alex Presley LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Casey McGehee 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Michael McKenry C
Clint Barmes SS
Kevin Correia P

Chicago will go with the following lineup:

David DeJesus CF
Starlin Castro SS
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Bryan LaHair RF
Steve Clevenger C
Luis Valbuena 3B
Darwin Barney 2B
Tony Campana LF
Ryan Dempster P

The game starts at 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Cubs, there's Bleed Cubbie Blue.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates Recap: Bucs' Offense Quiet Again In 5-1 Loss To Chicago

The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped their second straight game to the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday night, scoring only one run just one night after getting only one hit off Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija. While the biggest news of the night happened off the field in a trade for Houston's Wandy Rodriguez, the 5-1 loss clinched the series for Chicago and put the Bucs two games back of the Reds, who were struggling against the Astros at the time.

Just like Samardzija on Monday night, Cubs starter Paul Maholm went eight solid innings. Maholm, himself the subject of trade rumors, discussed a possible return to Pittsburgh earlier in the day. He then took the mound and gave up just four hits and one run to his former club. The lefty threw 110 pitches in his eight innings, striking out seven before handing the ball off to Carlos Marmol. The lone blip on the evening for Maholm was a solo shot by Garrett Jones in the bottom of the fourth.

James McDonald, on the other hand, was not nearly as sharp and the Cubs offense took advantage. Starlin Castro, who scored both runs on Monday night in the Cubs narrow win, took McDonald to center for a solo homer in the top of the first. The Bucs' starter then got a little wild in the top of the fifth, issuing a walk to Geovany Soto and then intentionally walking Luis Valbuena to get to the pitcher Maholm. But McDonald also gave a free pass to Maholm, and David DeJesus made him pay with a bases-loaded double that scored two and pushed the lead to 3-1. That's all the Cubs would need, but Alfonso Soriano added a two-run bomb in the sixth in McDonald's final inning on the mound.

Kevin Correia will now take the ball in Wednesday's getaway-day finale, looking to avoid the sweep. He'll be opposed by Ryan Dempster, another pitcher who has been the subject of constant trade rumors.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Cubs, there's Bleed Cubbie Blue.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates Lineups: Bucs Send Drew Sutton, Garrett Jones To Face Paul Maholm

Here are the lineups for the Pirates' Tuesday-night matchup against the Cubs (7:05 p.m.) as the Bucs take on former Pirate Paul Maholm. For the Pirates, Garrett Jones, who usually sits against lefties, is in the lineup against the lefty Maholm. The left-handed Alex Presley takes the night off, so the Pirates' corner-outfield alignment of Drew Sutton and Jones is about as bad as it could possibly be, from a defensive perspective, while still not being very likely to hit much -- Jones has a .597 career OPS against lefties. This lineup demonstrates how helpful an extra competent outfielder or two would be for the Pirates as they head down the stretch.

Cubs:

David DeJesus CF
Starlin Castro SS
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Bryan LaHair RF
Geovany Soto C
Darwin Barney 2B
Luis Valbuena 3B
Paul Maholm P

Pirates:

Drew Sutton LF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Casey McGehee 1B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
James McDonald P

UPDATE: The pitcher Tuesday is James McDonald, not Erik Bedard, who struck out 11 batters Monday. My mistake.

For more on the PIrates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates: Pittsburgh Needs Run Support On Tuesday

After getting shutout by Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs in game one of a three-game series between the two NL Central teams, the Pirates will look to James McDonald to get them back on track. Pittsburgh is just 1.5 games behind the hot Cincinnati Reds for the division lead and can cut into that lead with a win on Tuesday.

McDonald, one of just 11 NL starting pitchers with an ERA under 3.00, will need to receive the run support that Erik Bedard didn't receive on Monday, though, as Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison were the only two to record hits.

They'll need to do so against Paul Maholm, who has done well in his last two starts, earning back-to-back wins and allowing just two runs in 15 combined innings.

The first pitch at PNC Park is scheduled to be thrown at 7:05 p.m. and will be televised on Root Sports-PIttsburgh as well as CSN-Chicago.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Cubs, there's Bleed Cubbie Blue.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates Recap: Bucs Winning Streak Ends With Dominating 2-0 Shutout By Jeff Samardzija

The PIttsburgh Pirates five-game winning streak was snapped on Monday night as they dropped their series opener against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija was simply dominant, shutting out the Bucs offense and leading the Cubs to the 2-0 win. Samardzija pitched eight innings and allowed just one hit while striking out five. It was one of the tidier performances you'll see, as Samardzija breezed through the eight innings in just 99 pitches. The bottom of the first was the only time he faced more than three batters in an inning.

Pittsburgh's Erik Bedard was pretty fantastic in his own right, but his offense could not provide the run support against Samardzija. Bedard struck out 11 and allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings of work. Starlin Castro drew a lead-off walk to start the fourth and then Alfonso Soriano stepped into the box and delivered one of the two Cubs hits against Bedard -- a double to deep center that scored Castro from first. Bedard was definitely the tough-luck loser.

Soriano would repeat the feat again in the top of the ninth. Castro led off the inning with a single against Chris Resop and Soriano knocked him in with another double to deep right centerfield. The insurance run was unnecessary, however, as Carlos Marmol came on and slammed the door.

James McDonald will try to even the series up on Tuesday against Paul Maholm.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout. For more on the Cubs, there's Bleed Cubbie Blue.

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Cubs Vs. Pirates: Bucs' Run Of Easy Series Continues

The Cubs' starting pitching is good enough to keep the team in games, but their offense and bullpen have been awful.

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