The Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday will look not only to earn a split in their four-game series against the visiting Chicago Cubs, but to win the teams' season series.
The Cubs (66-86) won the first two games of the series by one run each before Pittsburgh (56-96) answered Saturday with a 6-0 winto snap an eight-game slide. The outcome left the 19-game season series at 9-9 with one game left.
Pittsburgh won Saturday without shortstop Oneil Cruz, who was given the night off, and third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes.
Hayes has been out of the starting lineup the past two games, and the team revealed he is dealing with a back issue and is considered day to day.
It's a pretty good bet that rookie infielder Ji Hwan Bae will be in the Pirates' lineup Sunday.
He made his major league debut Friday, going 1-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases. On Saturday, Bae picked up his first two career RBIs with a double.
"Really impressive," Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said, adding that Bae putting the ball in play consistently speaks to his good transition from Triple-A Indianapolis to the major leagues.
"The fact that he has hit the ground running and done in the first two games some really positive things, I think it's a little bit of a sigh of relief for him."
The Cubs missed a chance to gain their first five-game winning streak since mid-August, but help could be on the way.
Catcher Willson Contreras (ankle) did pre-game baseball work and appears close to coming off the injured list.
On the flip side, Chicago starter Wade Miley's season probably ended Saturday. Just four games back from his third stint on the IL, he left in the fifth inning because of left-oblique tightness after he attempted to spin and throw out a runner at second after fielding a bunt.
Miley told the Chicago Tribune his arm felt the best it has since mid-June, making his latest injury all the more frustrating.
In the series finale, Chicago right-hander Adrian Sampson (2-5, 3.35 ERA) is slated to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Luis Ortiz (0-0, 0.84).
Sampson's record belies how reliable he has been. He has turned in three straight quality starts and has allowed two or fewer runs in each of his past five. He has made it through at least five innings in 12 of his 16 starts this season.
Tuesday against Miami, Sampson did not get a decision after giving up eight hits but just one run in six innings.
Against the Pirates, Sampson is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in four career appearances, three of them starts. He had a quality start July 25 in a no-decision against Pittsburgh, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings.
Ortiz, who has not faced the Cubs, will make his third major-league start after two strong ones.
On Tuesday, Ortiz did not get a decision after giving up two runs (one earned) in five innings against the New York Yankees. That followed a memorable big-league debut Sept. 13 against Cincinnati, when he pitched 5 2/3 scoreless, one-hit innings.
--Field Level Media