The Cubs, losers of 12 of 14 at home, have struggled badly against the lowly Pirates this year, dropping nine of 12 matchups. Chicago, which has lost 11 of the last 14 meetings, dropped two of three to Pittsburgh from June 28-30 at Wrigley.
Pittsburgh (43-87), which saw its road losing streak reach 13 with an 8-4 loss to Milwaukee on Sunday, snapped a 17-game road skid June 28. Paul Maholm (7-12, 4.82 ERA), who threw eight innings of one-run ball in that game, takes the mound in the opener of this series.
After losing his previous three starts with a 7.80 ERA, the left-hander did not earn a decision in a 4-3 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday, yielding two runs in 6 2-3 innings.
The Cubs don't need to be reminded. Maholm has gone 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts against them this season. He's 7-1 in 12 career starts versus Chicago, although he has a 5.70 ERA in those outings.
Carlos Zambrano (5-6, 4.64) continued his resurgence in his last start for the Cubs, giving up one run in a season-high 7 1-3 innings of a 5-4 victory at Washington on Tuesday.
Zambrano is 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA in four starts since being reinserted into the rotation following a June suspension. He left the team for three days following his last start to travel to his native Venezuela, where his 11-year-old nephew is critically ill with an infection.
Zambrano has gone 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two relief appearances versus Pittsburgh this season. He is 11-6 with a 3.72 ERA in 25 starts against the Pirates.
New manager Mike Quade says he'll keep the same intensity at the top step of the dugout as he did in the third-base coaching box and as the Cubs' outfield coach.
"I've got to do this my way," he said Friday as the Cubs opened a series at Cincinnati. "I'm probably more involved than most seasoned major-league managers. I want to run a game. I want to set the defense. Tram (bench coach Alan Trammell) takes care of all the infield defense and positioning. I want to be on the forefront on the top step and say, 'Hey, here's what we're doing.'
"I'm just managing a ballgame. Believe me, you understand the enormity of it and everything else. Once it's 7:05, I enjoy it. Actually, I find it relaxing, to a certain extent."
Quade admits he's "auditioning" to become the manager beyond this year. Ryne Sandberg, a Cubs Hall of Famer, is managing the team's Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa club, and he'll be a candidate. This week, GM Jim Hendry interviewed former Cleveland manager Eric Wedge.
Quade says he does not concern himself with those developments.
"Not a distraction," he said. "Probably a different word than curious. Jim was upfront with me, and we covered everything. He's going to interview people, and this is going to give him time to do that and not have some crush at the end of the season. He knows I'm good with it, and he's been upfront with me. There are a lot of good baseball people out there."
REDS 7, CUBS 1: LHP Tom Gorzelanny allowed two of the three homers hit by the Reds' Jay Bruce, and rookie LH reliever Scott Maine allowed the third. The Reds broke open a 2-1 lead with a four-run fourth. The Cubs managed just six hits.
--RHP Carlos Silva made a rehab start for Class A Peoria and worked 2 2/3 innings, throwing 50 pitches and giving up two hits while striking out one. It was his first game action since coming out of his Aug. 1 start with a rapid heartbeat. The Cubs will determine whether Silva will need another rehab appearance.
--1B Tyler Colvin continues to take groundballs at first base, but with Micah Hoffpauir up from the minor leagues, there is no rush to use Colvin at first. But he'll keep working there. "He's done it before," manager Mike Quade said, referring to Colvin playing some first base in college. "Why not? We talked about his outfield play. I believe it would not affect that at all. Why not increase his value and our ability to use him in different possibilities?"
--2B Blake DeWitt led off for the third time in the four games Quade has managed. That's a new lineup wrinkle. "For instance, Blake at the top of the order, that was more of getting Colvin out of the leadoff spot because he had been struggling," Quade said. "He was great when he was going good. Blake is such a do-anything guy, it seemed to make sense."
--LHP Scott Maine made his major league debut. He gave up the third of Jay Bruce's three homers. Rookie relievers Marcos Mateo and Thomas Diamond also pitched. "The kids got some work," Quade said. "Mateo, I thought, threw the ball great. Maine got his feet wet. He got involved in the Bruce thing, but what are you going to do? He threw the ball well."
--SS Starlin Castro had his four-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-4 night. He grounded into a double play. LF Alfonso Soriano also had a four-game hitting streak snapped. Soriano batted seventh for the third time in four games with Quade as manager.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1,835 -- Career victories for the now-retired Lou Piniella, making him the 14th-winningest manager in major league history. He was 316-293 with the Cubs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I didn't think my career would end this way but, you know, my mom needs me home." -- Lou Piniella, on his decision to step down as manager Sunday instead of waiting until season's end, as originally planned.
--CF Marlon Byrd (bruised right hand) was hit by a pitch Aug. 23, and he didn't play Aug. 24. He returned to the lineup Aug. 25.
--RHP Carlos Silva (cardiac evaluation) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 2. He underwent a successful cardiac ablation Aug. 9 in Chicago, and he started a throwing program in mid-August. He threw a simulated game Aug. 22. Silva made a rehab start Aug. 27 for Class A Peoria. The Cubs will decide whether he needs another rehab start.
--RHP Esmailin Caridad (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list May 19. He began a rehab assignment Aug. 19 with the Cubs' affiliate in the rookie-level Arizona League.
--LHP John Grabow (sprained left knee) went on the 15-day disabled list June 29. He spent the first half of June on the DL because of the knee. He went to the team's spring training facility in Arizona during early August to continue his rehab, but he was found to have suffered a torn medial collateral ligament on Aug. 11. He will miss the rest of the season.
--RHP Angel Guzman (right shoulder surgery in March 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 31. He is out for the season.