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Game Thread: Cubs at Pirates, 9/21/20

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St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates - Game One Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Pirates and the Chicago Cubs will kick off a four-game series with a 7:05 p.m. start this evening at PNC Park.

It will be the final home series of the season for the Pirates, who own baseball’s worst record at 15-38.

Rookie JT Brubaker (1-2, 4.79 ERA) will start for Pittsburgh against veteran left-hander Jon Lester (2-2, 4.91 ERA) for the Cubs. Tonight’s game will be telecast on AT&T SportsNet.

Lester appears to be finding his groove at the right time – at least as far as the Cubs are concerned.

He has posted a 1.64 ERA over 11 innings in his last two starts, with the latest coming Wednesday against Cleveland. He gave up two runs on four hits in five innings, and over his last 11 innings he has struck out nine and walked three.

Brubaker looked solid in his last outing, giving up a run on five hits in 5 1/3 innings in a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati.

The Cubs occupy the top spot in the NL Central with a 31-22 record, but the Cardinals – who beat up on the Pirates over the weekend — remain in the chase at 26-24, and the Brewers and Reds are a game in back of St. Louis.

Although the Cubs are in first place, their lineup is not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, as stars Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo all are scuffling.

Schwarber was removed in the third inning of Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the Twins after misplaying a ball hit into the left-field corner in the second inning.

According to MLB.com, Cubs manager David Ross would not comment on his reason for pulling Schwarber, who is hitting just .190 with a .699 OPS but is back in the starting lineup today.

“I’d like to keep it in house,” Ross said. “That’s between me and Schwarbs.”

For the Buccos, Jose Osuna will be in the starting lineup for the fourth straight day – he started one game in Friday’s doubleheader — after being MIA from Sept. 2-17. Osuna has gone 2 for 9 in those three starts with a solo home run in Saturday’s 5-4 loss and his hitting .161 with a .474 OPS on the season.

Tonight’s lineups:

CUBS

1. Ian Happ, CF

2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

3. Willson Contreras, C

4. Kyle Schwarber, LF

5. Kris Bryant, 3B

6. Jason Heyward, RF

7. Javier Baez, SS

8. Jason Kipnis, 2B

9. Victor Caratini, DH

PIRATES

1. Bryan Reynolds, CF

2. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B

3. Erik Gonzalez, SS

4. Colin Moran, 1B

5. Josh Bell, DH

6. Gregory Polanco, RF

7. Jacob Stallings, C

8. Adam Frazier, 2B

9. Jose Osuna, LF