If the Pittsburgh Pirates truly want to contend, they will probably need to improve their play against the lowly Chicago Cubs.
The Pirates, who dropped their first series against the Cubs, expect to have Andrew McCutchen back in the lineup as they try to spoil Matt Garza's season debut in Tuesday night's opener of a three-game home set.
Pittsburgh (26-18) has won eight of 10 for its best start since beginning 29-15 in 1991. The Pirates are six games better than they were at this point last season in a year in which they led the NL Central at the All-Star break before fading.
One reason Pittsburgh faltered was its 5-8 record after the break against a Chicago team that lost 101 games. The Pirates have now dropped seven of nine at home against the Cubs (18-25) after losing two of three to start 2013 in a series that saw the clubs combine for 12 runs.
Pittsburgh had Monday off after McCutchen was a late scratch from Sunday's 1-0 home victory over Houston due to soreness in his right...