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Pittsburgh at Chicago

Venue: Wrigley Field

The Chicago Cubs are starting to show some signs of life at the plate.

Coming off a third straight productive offensive performance, the Cubs look to win consecutive games for the first time in Thursday's series finale against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

Chicago (3-5) had one of the majors' worst offenses last season, averaging 3.7 runs, hitting .238 overall and .218 with runners in scoring position. The Cubs continued that trend while losing four of their first five in 2014 behind eight total runs, a .216 overall average and .100 (4 for 40) clip when runners reached second base.

Since then, the Cubs have scored 21 runs, hit .300 overall and .375 (9 for 24) with runners in scoring position to win two of three.

Anthony Rizzo had four hits and Mike Olt hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs as Chicago overcame five solo homers from the Pirates (5-3) to win 7-5 on Wednesday.

"We had some well-struck balls," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "They did there at the end, too, so it was a good night to hit."

Rizzo is 10 for 15 with three RBIs in four games after going 2 for 17 with two RBIs over the first four. However, he's even more pleased that his team is starting to see some positive results.

"I was excited," Rizzo said. "We had a great atmosphere in here after the game."

Teammate Emilio Bonifacio added two more hits and is batting .500 (19 for 38) on the season. He is 16 for 26 in five games against the Pirates this year.

Chicago could face a tough test looking to stay hot at the plate against scheduled Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole (1-0, 2.57 ERA), who went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA against the Cubs in his first major-league season last year.

Though he threw 108 pitches in seven innings Friday, the right-hander allowed only a two-run homer and five other hits during a 12-2 win over St. Louis.

"His command was come-and-go," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "To average 15 pitches on a night you're not sharp ... that speaks to his ability to go out there against a good lineup and find a way to get things done when he doesn't have his best stuff."

Cole has a 1.64 ERA while winning his last five regular-season starts, including both against the Cubs.

Chicago counters with Travis Wood (0-1, 4.26), who was 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts versus Pittsburgh last season while receiving one run of support in those outings.

The left-hander allowed four runs and six hits while fanning eight in 6 1-3 innings of a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday.

"I'd like to have a couple pitches back, but other than that, I thought I kept us in the game," Wood told the Cubs' official website.

Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez is 1 for 15 with six strikeouts against Wood, but he homered twice Wednesday.

The third baseman is 4 for 8 with four RBIs in the series after going 3 for 22 with two home runs and three RBIs in the first six contests.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
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TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
Pittsburgh3rd NL Central7880.494234-6 W 1
Chi Cubs1st NL Central10157.639-7-3 L 1

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Series Game Log
Apr 11CHCCHC 5-3Warren Cingrani 
Apr 13CHCCHC 9-2Lackey Simon 
Apr 14CHCCHC 8-1Hammel Iglesias 
Apr 21CINCHC 16-0Arrieta Finnegan 
Apr 22CINCHC 8-1Lester Moscot 
Apr 23CINCIN 13-5Wood Lackey 
Apr 24CINCHC 9-0Hammel Simon 
Jun 27CINCHC 11-8Arrieta Straily 
Jun 28CINCHC 7-2Patton Hoover 
Jun 29CINCHC 9-2Hendricks Reed 
Jul 4CHCCHC 10-4Hendricks Reed 
Jul 5CHCCIN 9-5Finnegan Lackey 
Jul 6CHCCIN 5-3DeSclafani Cahill 
Sep 19CHCCHC 5-2Hammel Wood 
Sep 20CHCCHC 6-1Lester Smith 
Sep 21CHCCHC 9-2Lackey Stephenson 
Sep 30CIN 7:10 PM EDT  
Oct 1CIN 4:10 PM EDT  
Oct 2CIN 3:10 PM EDT