MLB Insiders: Chicago Cubs

The Pirates host the Chicago Cubs in the opener of a three-game series on Monday at PNC Park. Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf will pitch for the Bucs. The Cubs counter with righty Randy Wells.

Trying to avoid losing a sixth straight game, the Pirates look to continue to frustrate the Chicago Cubs as they open a three-game series Monday at PNC Park.

Since April 30, Pittsburgh is 5-1 against Chicago, compared to 5-18 against everyone else.

Lou Piniella, who said he might shuffle his lineup after Sunday's 9-1 loss to St. Louis, will give the ball to Randy Wells (3-3, 4.79 ERA), who hopes this outing goes a bit better than his last one.

Wells failed to get an out in Friday's 7-1 loss to St. Louis, throwing 16 pitches and yielding six consecutive hits to start the game before being removed.

It was Wells' worst outing since getting tagged for seven runs and five hits in two innings of an 11-1 loss in Pittsburgh on May 6. The right-hander had posted a 2.08 ERA in winning his first two career starts against the Pirates.

Wells, 0-3 with a 6.48 ERA in five starts this month, is taking the spot in the rotation of Tom Gorzelanny, who is being moved to the bullpen to make room for Carlos Zambrano, the scheduled starter for Wednesday's finale.

The Pirates counter with Ross Ohlendorf (0-3, 5.11), who was on the mound in Pittsburgh's lone loss to the Cubs this season. Ohlendorf pitched well, allowing two runs and four hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss at Wrigley Field on May 16, but didn't receive a decision.

In his only other start against Chicago, Ohlendorf scattered four hits and struck out eight in seven innings of a 3-0 win on June 30.

The right-hander is coming off a shaky outing, yielding three runs, eight hits and five walks in six innings of Wednesday's 4-0 loss to Cincinnati. Since defeating Milwaukee on Aug. 18, Ohlendorf is 0-5 with a 3.86 ERA in 10 starts— with the Pirates losing eight of those contests.

Right-hander Carlos Zambrano will rejoin the starting rotation Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

That marks the end of an experiment, which began in late April, to make Zambrano a late-inning setup man. Zambrano went kicking and screaming to the pen, but he picked it up of late when he knew he would start again.

"He's been throwing the ball well the past 10 days or so," said manager Lou Piniella. "Now we need for him to carry that over into the rotation and win some ballgames for us. That's really what we need. He'll make our rotation stronger if he pitches the way he's capable of pitching. Let's see what happens. But we look forward to getting him out there pitching, and Wednesday's a good time to start."

Zambrano appeared in the first two games of the weekend series against the Cardinals. He worked a scoreless inning in Friday's 7-1 loss and two-thirds scoreless innings in Saturday's 5-0 victory.

The Cubs wanted Zambrano to get "stretched out" to start again, and they feel that the back-to-back relief appearances will accomplish that task.

CARDINALS 9, CUBS 1: RHP Ryan Dempster gave up two home runs to Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols, and LHP John Grabow gave up another homer to Pujols as the Cubs dropped two of three in this series. The Cubs were trailing 6-1 in the seventh when C Geovany Soto hit his fifth homer of the year to account for the only Chicago scoring.


* RHP Randy Wells will come back on two days rest to start Monday afternoon's series opener at Pittsburgh. Wells started Friday but lasted only 16 pitches as the Cardinals scored five times against him in the first inning.

* LHP Tom Gorzelanny is the odd-man out of the starting rotation with the return of Carlos Zambrano on Wednesday at Pittsburgh. Zambrano rejoins the rotation after slightly more than a month as a setup man. Gorzelanny is 2-5 with a 3.66 ERA. He expressed a preference to stay in the rotation, but manager Lou Piniella told him he could contribute in the pen. "We didn't expect him to be happy about it, and he wasn't," Piniella said. "But at the same time we impressed on him that he could be very helpful to us."

* RHP Ryan Dempster threw 125 pitches in Sunday's loss. That was the most since he threw 126 in September 2001 while with the Marlins. Dempster (3-5) also surrendered a season-worst six runs in 6 2/3 innings.

* SS Starlin Castro seems to have righted himself at the plate after a slump. He extended his hitting streak to three games. Castro is 5-for-11 (.455) during the streak. The Cubs are committed to Castro for the long haul, and they seem inclined to let him play his way through slumps.

* LHP John Grabow continues to struggle out of the bullpen. He already has lost his primary setup role and has been relegated to mop-up duty despite being in the first year of a two-year, $7.5 million deal. He has been bothered by a sore left knee, and it will be interesting to see if the Cubs put him on the DL when they make expected roster moves later this week. With the move of Gorzelanny to the pen, the Cubs have a glut of left-handed relievers, including rookie James Russell and new setup man Sean Marshall.

* RHP Andrew Cashner is expected to come up from Class AAA (Des Moines) Iowa during the Pittsburgh series. Cashner was moved from the rotation to the bullpen at Iowa late last week, and he pitched twice in relief. Cashner, a closer at Texas Christian University, was the Cubs' first-round draft pick in 2008.

By The Numbers: 1—That's the number of walks 2B Ryan Theriot had in May through the weekend.

Quote To Note: "It's unbelievable. I don't do it for two years, and now people are saying, 'Carlos is pitching tomorrow. We have a chance to win.'" —RHP Carlos Silva on his 7-0 start.

Medical Watch:

* 3B Jeff Baker (loss of vision in right eye) had to leave the May 27 game and was diagnosed with an ocular migraine—something he had never before experienced. He did not play May 28-30, and he is day-to-day.

* 3B Aramis Ramirez (sore left thumb and index finger) did not start May 20-21. He returned to action May 22 as the designated hitter, but he didn't play May 23-27. He was back in the lineup May 28, didn't play May 29, then started May 30.

* RHP Esmailin Caridad (strained right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list May 19. He was out from April 12 to May 7 with a strained right forearm.

* RHP Angel Guzman (right shoulder surgery in March 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is out for the season.

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