Series: Game 3 of 2

Pittsburgh won 2-0

Game 1: Monday, May 31
Chi Cubs1Final
Game 2: Tuesday, June 1
Chi Cubs2Final
Game 3: Wednesday, June 2
Chi CubsPostponed

7:05 PM ET, June 2, 2010

PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Starting Pitchers

Chicago: Zambrano (11-6, 3.33 ERA)

Pittsburgh: Duke (8-15, 5.72 ERA)

Cubs-Pirates Preview


Initially unhappy, Carlos Zambrano said he was willing to do whatever the Chicago Cubs felt was best for the team after learning of his relegation to the bullpen in late April.

Right now, the most significant thing he can do is help his club figure out a way to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Zambrano returns to the rotation for the first time in six weeks Wednesday night as the Cubs desperately look to avoid a three-game sweep and a 10th loss in 11 games to Pittsburgh.

Zambrano (1-3, 6.12 ERA) spent time as a reliever during his early days in Chicago, but a move back to the bullpen seemed unfathomable as the right-hander became the Cubs' ace over the past seven seasons.

Yet that's exactly what happened after Zambrano's first four starts. Chicago (24-29) cited Zambrano's relief experience and his ability to stabilize a shaky bullpen as its reasons for the move when Ted Lilly returned to the rotation, but a 1-2 record and a 7.45 ERA certainly played a part.

"I don't like to be a reliever. I don't want to be a reliever," Zambrano said after learning of the demotion. "... (But) whatever you want me to do, I'm here for this team and I'm here to help this team."

With starter Tom Gorzelanny struggling recently, the Cubs finally decided it was time to stick the three-time All-Star -- 0-1 with a 4.15 ERA in 13 relief appearances -- back in the rotation.

"He's been throwing the ball well here the last 10 days or so," manager Lou Piniella told the team's official website. "Now we need for him to carry that over into the rotation and win some ballgames for us."

Zambrano's toughest outing as a reliever came May 14 against Pittsburgh (22-31). He came into a 6-6 game in the eighth inning but failed to retire any of the first five Pirates he faced, with Garrett Jones' three-run homer the key blow in a 10-6 loss.

Jones, who homered Tuesday, is hitting .467 with three homers and 12 RBIs against Chicago in 2010.

Zambrano is 7-1 with a 3.61 ERA in his last 11 starts at PNC Park, and the Cubs certainly would love to see him pitch well Wednesday. Neil Walker's two-run homer -- the first of his career -- in the eighth inning Tuesday turned the Pirates' one-run deficit into a one-run lead, and Octavio Dotel closed out the 3-2 win for his fifth save versus Chicago.

Pittsburgh has won seven of eight against the Cubs this season, and outscored them 52-23 in winning nine of 10 since Sept. 30. Chicago is hitting .197 and has been held to 11 runs over its last six games overall.

"This is frustrating for everyone," said Xavier Nady, who had four of the team's seven hits Tuesday. "You obviously come prepared and plan on getting big hits and getting things going, but offensively, we're just not doing it."

The Cubs might be able to get the bats going against Zach Duke (3-5, 5.09). The left-hander won his first four career starts versus Chicago, but is 0-8 with a 4.94 ERA in 13 outings since.

Piniella gave regulars Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto a night off Tuesday to shake up his slumping lineup, but he'll have no shortage of good options to throw at Duke. Alfonso Soriano is a .417 hitter against Duke, while Theriot (.359), Ramirez (.333) and Jeff Baker (7 for 12, two homers) have also thrived.

Duke gave up seven runs and 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings Friday in a 7-3 loss at Atlanta.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Gameday Matchup

Current StreakL1L2
Last 106-44-6

Pitching Matchup

C. Zambrano
11-6, 3.33 ERA

Last Game:
10/2 at HOU
6.1 IP, 2 ER
Dec = Win
Z. Duke
8-15, 5.72 ERA

Last Game:
9/30 at FLA
4.0 IP, 4 ER
Dec = Loss

Gameday Lineups

1. R. Theriot, 2B A. McCutchen, CF
2. J. Baker, RF N. Walker, 2B
3. M. Byrd, CF L. Milledge, LF
4. X. Nady, 1B G. Jones, 1B
5. A. Ramirez, 3B R. Church, RF
6. A. Soriano, LF R. Doumit, C
7. G. Soto, C A. LaRoche, 3B
8. S. Castro, SS R. Cedeno, SS
9. C. Zambrano, P Z. Duke, P