Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field
TV: Comcast SportsNet Friday; WGN Saturday and Sunday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Jeff Samardzija (5-7) vs. Francisco Liriano (7-3) Friday at 3:05 p.m.; Edwin Jackson (4-10) vs. Charlie Morton (1-1) Saturday at 3:05 p.m.; Carlos Villanueva (2-4) vs. TBD Sunday at 1:20 p.m.
At a glance: The Cubs are 3-6 against the Pirates, 1-2 at Wrigley Field. On Independence Day, the Pirates had the best record in baseball, at 52-31. There's no secret as how the Pirates are getting it done. They entered Thursday leading the NL in ERA (3.12). Their run differential was only a plus-44, as they ranked in the second half of several key offensive categories. Andrew McCutchen led the way with a hitting line of .300/.371/.472. Pedro Alvarez topped the Bucs with 21 homers and 52 RBI. Closer Jason Grilli leads the NL in saves; he had 28 and a WHIP of 0.88. Cubs setup man James Russell led the NL in blown saves (6). The Cubs were ninth in team ERA (3.94). This begins a stretch of 10 straight games in Chicago for the Cubs leading up to the all-star break. They are 11-25 against NL Central foes.
Next: White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, Monday
-- Bruce Miles