Considering the Pittsburgh Pirates had won three times in their past 18 trips to Wrigley Field after dropping the opener of a four-game series this week, it seemed the 97-loss club had a good chance to leave town with an even 100.
Instead, they can equal their two-year win total on Chicago's North Side in just two days.The Pirates try to build on the momentum of a rare doubleheader sweep Thursday night and win a third straight game at Wrigley for the first time in more than seven years.Heading into a four-game series against the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers last week with 95 losses, Pittsburgh (61-97) seemed destined for its first 100-loss season since 2001. Instead, the Pirates won three of four from the Dodgers, and after losing their opener to the Cubs (82-76) to fall to 3-15 in Chicago since Sept. 21, 2007, swept a road doubleheader Wednesday.Charlie Morton was the story of Game 1, tossing a four-hitter in Pittsburgh's 4-0 win for his first career complete game, while Ryan Doumit's 4-for-4 performance and four RBIs sparked the offense in an 8-2 victory in the second game."Hey, that's baseball," said Doumit, who hadn't had a four-hit game since Sept. 5, 2008. "To have a day like this, I can't remember the last time we won at Wrigley, let alone two games in one day."It was the Pirates' first road doubleheader sweep since Sept. 15, 1996, in San Francisco, and first at Wrigley since June 20, 1983.Pittsburgh hasn't won three in a row on the road since May 18-20 at Washington, and hasn't won three consecutive road games against the Cubs since taking four straight from Oct. 7, 2001-May 21, 2002.Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.44 ERA) will make his final start for the Pirates looking to build off three impressive outings where he's gone 1-1 with a 2.14 ERA. Maholm gave up three runs and seven hits over seven innings Saturday against the Dodgers, leaving without a decision in an 8-4 loss.Maholm is 3-1 in his career at Wrigley Field, but has an ugly 8.13 ERA in seven starts. Derrek Lee, who returned in Game 2 of the doubleheader after missing the first game with a sore foot, is hitting .333 against Maholm.Lee is batting .359 with three homers and 14 RBIs against the Pirates in 2009.Jeff Samardzija (1-3, 7.53) takes the mound for the Cubs hoping to make his case for a spot in the rotation -- or at least the bullpen -- next season. He didn't do himself any favors in his first career start Aug. 12, allowing seven runs in 3 1/3 innings, but pitched better Sept. 23 at Milwaukee. The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits -- two homers -- over five innings in a 3-2 loss."I thought he was much improved," manager Lou Piniella told the Cubs' official Web site. "He's starting to look like a major league pitcher. ... I was impressed. He has to keep working and try to get better."Samardzija hasn't allowed a run in 4 2/3 career innings of relief against Pittsburgh.Pirates third baseman Andy LaRoche went 1 for 9 in Wednesday's doubleheader, but is still hitting .419 with three homers and nine RBIs in his last seven games.