Following a lengthy rough stretch, the Chicago Cubs have achieved some much-needed success.
It partially has come at the expense of the scuffling Pittsburgh Pirates.
Looking to extend their season-high winning streak to five games, the Cubs will aim for a series sweep of the visiting Pirates on Wednesday night.
Chicago lost five straight to conclude a 3-14 run from April 19-May 8. The Cubs followed that stretch by winning six of eight games, highlighted by outscoring Pittsburgh 16-0 in taking the first two contests of this three-game set.
"Winning helps build confidence, which can translate into more wins and more confidence," Cubs manager David Ross told Marquee Sports Network.
"I think it's a group that's just gonna go about their business on the daily, and bring all that they have to win that day."
While the Cubs have 43 runs over the last eight games, their starting pitchers own a 2.18 ERA over that stretch, and have allowed two earned runs over 23 2/3 innings in the last four.
After Wade Miley and Keegan Thompson helped Chicago post back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 2019, Drew Smyly (1-4, 3.64 ERA) will take the ball in the finale.
Smyly tossed five scoreless innings during a 2-1 win at Pittsburgh on April 12. However, the Pirates tagged the veteran left-hander for four runs and six hits in five innings of their 4-2 victory at Wrigley Field on April 22. That began a stretch of four straight losing decisions for Smyly, who also yielded four runs with a season-high 10 hits over six innings in Friday's 4-3 loss at Arizona.
Pittsburgh, though, is batting .140 with 49 strikeouts while totaling six runs during its current 2-4 rut. The Pirates, blanked in consecutive games three times since May 3, 2021, have been outscored 37-0 during their three losses -- in six games -- at Chicago this season.
After being no-hit in a 1-0 win over Cincinnati on Sunday, Pittsburgh managed eight hits through the first two games of this series. Meanwhile, its starting pitchers have allowed 11 runs -- nine earned -- over 6 1/3 innings during the set.
The Pirates have not named a starter for Wednesday's contest, which appeared to be slotted for Mitch Keller. However, the right-hander is 0-5 with a 6.61 ERA on the season and has allowed five runs in each of his last two starts over nine combined innings.
"As we've talked about deploying pitchers, we'll deploy them based on what we feel is best," Pirates manager Derek Shelton told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Pirates will try to contain Chicago's Frank Schwindel, who is batting .333 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs in his last six games. He's 5-for-14 in the last three games vs. Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, rookie teammate Seiya Suzuki is hitting .303 with seven RBIs in eight games against the Pirates.
Pittsburgh's Michael Chavis has two of his team's eight hits in this series. Fellow Pirate Ke'Bryan Hayes is 0-for-11 in his last three games and could be back in the lineup after not playing Tuesday.
Hayes has two hits in seven at-bats against Smyly since the start of last season.
--Field Level Media