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Pittsburgh at Chicago

Venue: Wrigley Field

The Chicago Cubs' offense seemed to be coming around, but it was shut out for the first time in nearly a month in the team's most recent contest.

It hasn't been able to score off Francisco Liriano, either.

The left-hander looks to continue his solid run this season by helping the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Cubs for the sixth time in seven tries Friday at Wrigley Field.

Liriano (7-3, 2.23 ERA) has allowed one run or none in seven of his 10 starts, striking out 67 in 60 2-3 innings. He beat Milwaukee on Saturday, yielding a run in six innings of a 2-1 win and registering six strikeouts for the third straight outing.

"We're playing pretty good baseball right now and have to continue it, so every five days I go out and try to do my job," Liriano said. "So far, so good."

The left-hander's success has been a major reason the Pirates (52-32) possess baseball's best winning percentage past the halfway point of the season.

"We're having fun, we're playing hard and we're giving everything we have," Liriano said.

Liriano has been stellar in two starts against Chicago this season, allowing two hits in seven innings in each and winning 1-0 on May 22 and 2-0 on June 7.

That last matchup marked the last time the Cubs were shut out prior to Sunday's 1-0 defeat at Oakland. Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro recorded the team's only hits off last-minute Triple-A call-up Dan Straily.

The only run came on Wellington Castillo's passed ball in the seventh off a pitch from Matt Guerrier, who came on after Travis Wood dominated for six innings.

"It was a shame," manager Dale Sveum said. "Six shutout innings. (Wood) pitched another great ballgame. One little passed ball."

The Cubs (36-47) had averaged 6.1 runs and finished with at least 10 hits five times over their previous nine games.

"You have to keep battling every single day," Wood said. "Their guy pitched awesome. He kept us off balance and off the scoreboard. Have to find a way to win these games."

Jeff Samardzija enters his start Friday not having received one run of support in two outings versus Pittsburgh this year and lost both. He opposed Liriano in May, giving up one run in seven innings, before allowing four runs in six frames of a 6-2 defeat to the Pirates on June 8. He's still 3-2 with a 1.66 ERA in five career starts against them.

Samardzija (5-7, 3.34) is 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA over his last three outings after giving up two runs in seven innings of a 5-3, 11-inning win over Seattle on Saturday.

The right-hander hopes for another solid outing against a Pittsburgh team that had won nine straight before dropping two of three to Philadelphia, including Thursday's 6-4 defeat.

Andrew McCutchen drove in two runs and is batting .372 with nine RBIs over his last 11 games. Starling Marte went 2 for 4 and is hitting .356 during a nine-game hitting streak.

The Pirates have won six of nine meetings with the Cubs this season, though Chicago ended a five-game skid in the series with a 4-1 win June 9. McCutchen is hitting .444 with three doubles over the last five matchups.

It's unclear if Cubs center fielder Brian Bogusevic will play after leaving Thursday's contest in the third inning with a left hamstring injury. He's hitting .300 in eight games since being called up from the minors.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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weather image  Mostly sunny. Warm.
Hi TempLo TempWindHumidityPrecip %
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central89.47143-7 L 1
Chi Cubs5th NL Central411.26773-7 L 5
Probable Starters

Francisco Liriano, LHP
2013 stats
60.2 Innings Pitched 113.1
7-3 Wins-Losses 5-7
2.23 Earned Run Average 3.34
23 Walks 37
67 Strikeouts 120
94 Pitches Per Start 105
Career vs. opponent
19.2 Innings Pitched 52.0
2-1 Wins-Losses 4-2
1.83 Earned Run Average 1.56

Jeff Samardzija, RHP
vs Jeff Samardzija
vs Francisco Liriano

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J. MercerAnkle
C. StewartKnee
Chi Cubs
J. ArrietaShoulder
K. FujikawaForearm
J. McDonaldShoulder
Series Game Log
Apr 18CHCCIN 4-1Simon Samardzija 
Apr 19CHC 2:20 PM EDT  
Apr 20CHC 2:20 PM EDT  
Apr 28CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Apr 29CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Apr 30CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Jun 23CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Jun 24CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Jun 25CHC 7:05 PM EDT  
Jul 7CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 8CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 9CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Jul 10CIN12:35 PM EDT  
Aug 26CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 27CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Aug 28CIN12:35 PM EDT  
Sep 15CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Sep 16CHC 8:05 PM EDT  
Sep 17CHC 8:05 PM EDT