With their first postseason berth since 1992 secured, the Pittsburgh Pirates turn their attention toward trying to claim the National League Central crown when they continue their series at the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. The Pirates are assured of at least a spot in the wild card game, but remain two games behind St. Louis in the division race. Pittsburgh has won 11 of 17 against Chicago after a 2-1 victory in the series opener, which ended when the Cubs had the tying run cut down at the plate.The Pirates haven't won two straight since they did so against the Cubs on Sept. 14-15, but they managed to become the second team in two days to pop champagne in the visitors clubhouse at Wrigley Field after Atlanta clinched the NL East title there Sunday. Pittsburgh remains tied with Cincinnati in the race to determine who will host the wild card game if neither team catches the Cardinals. Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole takes the mound against Chris Rusin in a battle of rookie hurlers.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ROOT (Pittsburgh), CSN Chicago
PITCHING MATCHUP: Pirates RH Gerrit Cole (9-7, 3.23 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Chris Rusin (2-5, 3.52)
Cole has won three straight starts, allowing two runs over 20 innings and racking up 28 strikeouts in the process. The former No. 1 overall pick needs six strikeouts to reach 100 since making his big-league debut June 11. Cole is facing the Cubs for the second time this month after limiting them to one run over seven innings in a win Sept. 14 in Pittsburgh.
Rusin is winless in seven starts since beating St. Louis on Aug. 9 and is coming off his worst outing of the season when he allowed six runs over four innings in a loss at Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Cubs have scored two or fewer runs in five of the last seven games Rusin has started. The 26-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.65 ERA in three starts against Pittsburgh.
1. Pittsburgh has homered in six straight games with 10 home runs over that span, and 2B Neil Walker has homered in four of the past five contests.
2. The Cubs have hit .175 and scored 38 runs in 17 games against the Pirates this season.
3. The Pirates are 41-30 against NL Central opponents while the Cubs are 24-47 against the division.
PREDICTION: Pirates 6, Cubs 2