By Bruce Miles
Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park
TV: Comcast SportsNet Friday; WGN Saturday and Sunday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Rodrigo Lopez (1-2) vs. James McDonald (5-4) Friday at 6:05 p.m.; Ryan Dempster (5-6) vs. Kevin Correia (11-6) Saturday at 6:05 p.m.; Ramon Ortiz (0-1) vs. Paul Maholm (5-9) Sunday at 12:35 p.m.
At a glance: The Pirates are the surprise team of baseball as they entered Thursday with a 45-42 record. They were third in the NL Central, 1½ games out of first place. The Pirates were only 21-21 at home but 24-21 on the road. The Cubs have dropped four of six to the Pirates this year, all at Wrigley Field. Maholm tossed a complete game at the Cubs on May 28. Correia beat the Cubs on Opening Day and on May 27. Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates in most key offensive categories. The Bucs have been getting it done with pitching. They entered Thursday fifth in the NL in ERA, at 3.43. The Cubs are officially TBA for Saturday, but Dempster threw a side session in Washington on Thursday and expressed confidence he could start after experiencing stomach and back problems.
Next: Florida Marlins at Wrigley Field, July 14-17