8:05 PM ET, September 24, 2013
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
Pittsburgh: Cole (9-7, 3.23 ERA)
Chicago: Rusin (2-5, 3.52 ERA)
Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole has impressed YouWager experts.
Cole will try to continue that tonight as he starts versus the Chicago Cubs who seeking the top spot in the NL wild-card race.
The Pirates rode a pair of solo home runs to a 2-1 win versus the Cubs Monday and clinched its first postseason berth since 1992.
Neil Walker put Pittsburgh (90-67) on top with a first-inning homer, his fourth in five games, and after Chicago (65-92) tied it in the bottom of the eighth, Starling Marte provided the go-ahead run with his shot.
Closer Jason Grilli, with a .357 average against since he came back to the field from a strained right forearm, struggled, allowing a walk and a single, but Nate Schierholtz was thrown out trying to score from first on Ryan Sweeney’s single.
The Cincinnati Reds also won in dramatic fashion, walking off versus the New York Mets in 10 innings to remain in a tie with the Pirates.
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are both two games behind Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals.
Cole (9-7, 3.23 ERA) has done an outstanding job for the Pirates’ rotation since his major league debut in June, but he’s been particularly good as of late. The right-hander won each of his last three starts, allowing two runs in 20 innings with 28 strikeouts.
Tonight Cole, who will face Chicago for the second time in 11 days, pitched seven one-run innings against them in a 2-1 win Sept. 14.
The Cubs will counter with Chris Rusin (2-5, 3.52) who was faring similarly well in his rookie MLB season, as he allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven straight starts before Milwaukee Brewers roughed him up for six runs in four innings of a 7-0 defeat Wednesday.
The left-hander, who had yielded three home runs in his prior 58 innings, surrendered two Wednesday, including Sean Halton’s first-inning grand slam.
Chicago has scored 29 runs and batted .216 while losing 10 of 13.