Series preview: Cubs at Pirates


PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Cubs open a four-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday.

The series

Monday, 6:05 p.m.: Edwin Jackson (4-5, 4.59 ERA) versus Charlie Morton (2-7, 3.31)

Tuesday, 6:05 p.m.: Travis Wood (5-5, 5.04) versus Francisco Liriano (1-6, 4.54)

Wednesday, 6:05 p.m.: Jason Hammel (6-3, 2.53) versus Brandon Cumpton (1-2, 6.51)

Thursday, 6:05 p.m.: Jeff Samardzija 2-5 (2.54) versus Edinson Volquez (3-5, 4.27)

Road woes: The Cubs are on the road, where they haven’t fared very well this season, for the next 10 games. After taking five of six at home this past week, they are one game above .500 (15-14) at Wrigley Field but just 10-21 on the road. By the end of the road trip, the Cubs will be done with half their road games, having played 12 more away from Chicago than at home.

The standings: The Cubs are three games behind the Pirates, which means a road sweep would take them out of the cellar for the first time all season. After going to the playoffs last season, Pittsburgh is just 29-33, having lost two in a row at home over the weekend to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Who’s hot/who’s not: Nate Schierholtz has been having better at-bats for a couple of weeks, and the results are finally starting to show. He was 6-for-20 on the homestand, and seemingly, every hit was a big one, including two triples over the weekend against the Miami Marlins. He drove in four big runs during the week when the Cubs needed them desperately. Emilio Bonifacio woke up from a slump over the past two days, hitting his first home run since last year on Saturday and collecting three hits on Sunday.

Mike Olt is down to .153 after an 0-for-7 homestand. His last home run was May 18, and his last RBI was May 21. Since then, he’s struck out 17 times in his past 10 games.