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Major League Baseball
Preview
Chi. Cubs at Pittsburgh
When: 7:05 PM ET, Monday, April 20, 2015
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to have turned around their slow start, and they'll try to keep going in the right direction when they open a four-game series against the visiting Chicago Cubs on Monday. The Pirates are coming off a three-game sweep of Milwaukee, while the Cubs suffered their first series defeat of the season, dropping two of three to San Diego.



The Pirates, who got strong pitching throughout the Brewers series, have allowed three or fewer runs in five straight games and eight of their last 10. Veteran A.J. Burnett hopes to continue that trend as he looks for his first home win in his second stint with the Pirates - he is 14-13 with a 2.72 ERA in 36 career starts at PNC Park. Burnett and his teammates will have to deal with Cubs rookie phenom Kris Bryant, who is 3-for-10 in his first three major-league games and has reached base in seven of his last nine plate appearances. "It's not always about getting hits; his at-bats just kept getting better," Cubs manager Joe Maddon told reporters. "The bat speed's really good. More than anything, the fact that he maintained a structured strike zone and would not get out of his own zone, he was just fine."

TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, ROOT (Pittsburgh)



PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (1-1, 1.98 ERA) vs. Pirates RH A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25)

A three-run fourth inning last time out against Cincinnati has been the only blip on a strong beginning to the season for Arrieta. The 29-year-old has recorded two quality starts, allowing three runs and seven hits over 13 2/3 innings with 12 strikeouts and four walks. Arrieta is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA in four career outings against the Pirates.

Burnett pitched well in his first two starts of the season, but the Pirates totaled only two runs in those contests. The 38-year-old has racked up 15 strikeouts and only three walks in 12 innings, allowing three runs and 11 hits. Burnett is 7-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 13 career outings versus the Cubs but lost both starts against them last season.



WALK-OFFS

1. Chicago CF Dexter Fowler has gone 12-for-35 with five walks and eight runs scored over his last eight games after starting the season 1-for-13.

2. Cubs SS Starlin Castro is 13-for-29 with three doubles against Burnett.

3. Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is 4-for-11 with a double versus Arrieta, but the rest of Pittsburgh's roster is a combined 4-for-32.



PREDICTION: Cubs 3, Pirates 1


Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Chi. Cubs 6-5 L1 4-4 2-1 0-0 3-2 3-3 0-0
Pittsburgh 6-6 W3 4-2 2-4 0-0 5-4 0-0 1-2
Last Meeting
Chi. Cubs Pittsburgh
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
9/14/14 CHC 3 PIT 7 .154 0 .503 .343 1 .938
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Chi. Cubs N/A
Pittsburgh N/A
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Chi. Cubs A. Alcantara 0 0 0
Pittsburgh P. Alvarez 0 0 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Chi. Cubs 0.00 .000 0
Pittsburgh 0.00 .000 0
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Chi. Cubs S. Castro .311 14 .740
Pittsburgh G. Polanco .261 12 .639
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Chi. Cubs J. Soler 2 5 9
Pittsburgh P. Alvarez 4 8 7
Pitching ERA Avg K
Chi. Cubs 3.83 .227 92
Pittsburgh 3.03 .222 109