The numbers are almost staggering. When Brad Lincoln pitched seven strong innings Wednesday for his first major league win, lifting the Pirates over the Cubs 2-0 it was Pittsburgh's ninth win in 12 tries against Chicago.
Those nine wins represent one-third of the Pirates' victory total (27) this season. And closer Octavio Dotel, who pitched a scoreless ninth, has seven of his 16 saves against the Cubs.
"We've played well against them and pitched well against them," Pirates manager John Russell said Wednesday.
"We'll take it. We've played them tough, but we've played some other teams tough and have not found a way to win but we found a way to win against these guys. Hopefully that will continue."
Unfortunately for the Pirates -- and maybe fortunately for the Cubs -- the teams meet only three more times this season.
Pittsburgh broke a scoreless tie in the eighth with two unearned runs when Andy LaRoche reached on Aramis Ramirez's error with one out, Andrew McCutchen singled and Garrett Jones drove a ball off the ivy in left-center for a run-scoring double against reliever Andrew Cashner (0-3).
"It's hometown for me," said Garrett, who was born in suburban Harvey, Ill. "I had a lot of family and friends, I heard some cheers. It definitely helps you to get the win against the Cubs."
Lincoln (1-2) allowed just four hits in seven innings, the longest outing of his career in just his fifth major league start. He walked one and struck out six. Joel Hanrahan pitched the eighth before Dotel finished up the five-hit shutout.
"I felt like it was going to be my day. With the wind blowing in I used it to my advantage and attacked the zone and it worked out for us," Lincoln said.
It marked the sixth time in the past 11 games the punchless Cubs have scored one run or fewer. They had a leadoff man on base five times Wednesday, but couldn't come through with a clutch hit. And in the three-game series against the Pirates, they managed just four runs.
"We had a couple of chances offensively and didn't do much, hit a couple of balls hard that the wind knocked down," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said.
"This game here was a nice little synopsis of what our season has been like," Piniella added.
Former Pirate Tom Gorzelanny, making his first start since May 26 and back in the rotation with Carlos Zambrano on the restricted list following his outburst at U.S. Cellular Field on Friday, pitched five shutout innings for the Cubs, allowing four hits before being lifted for Colvin.
"This team is way too good to be playing like we have recently," Gorzelanny said after the Cubs dropped to 10 games under .500 with their eighth loss in 12 games.
- LaRoche made his fourth career start at second base. Infielders Neil Walker (concussion) and Bobby Crosby (concussion-like symptoms) are both out.
- The Pirates finished their nine-game road trip to Texas, Oakland and Chicago at 2-7 -- both wins at Wrigley Field.