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Cubs Return To Wrigley To Face 2010's Top Nemesis... The Pirates

(Sports Network) - Cubs starter Randy Wells hasn't picked up a victory in nearly two months and has struggled at home for most of the season.

Few teams, though, have had problems when hosting the Pirates.

Chicago seeks a second straight win this evening when they try to deal Pittsburgh an 18th road defeat in a row in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs have won just three times in their last nine games, but broke out for 14 hits in Sunday's 8-4 victory over the White Sox that ended the Pale Hose's 11-game winning streak and helped the Cubs avoid a sweep. It also came two days after Carlos Zambrano's dugout meltdown that led to his indefinite suspension from the team.

Tyler Colvin had three hits, a home run and four RBI, while Alfonso Soriano also homered for the Cubs, who had hit just .193 and scored six runs in their previous five games. However, the offense got it going in time to back Ryan Dempster's seven innings of three-run ball.

"We swung the bats well, Dempster did a great job," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said. "We're pleased."

Chicago could need another offensive outburst this evening when Wells goes for his first victory since April 30.

Owner of 12 wins and a 3.05 earned run average in 27 starts as a rookie last year, the 27-year-old has lost his last six decisions, spanning 10 starts, and is just 3-6 with a 5.21 ERA this year. He has allowed five or more runs in five his last 10 outings.

Wells was drilled for six runs and a season-high 10 runs over six innings of a loss in Seattle on Wednesday, but the righty hasn't been much better at home. Wells is 1-3 with a 5.77 ERA in seven outings this year at Wrigley Field.

Both of Wells' starts versus the Pirates this year came at Pittsburgh and he is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in those contests.

The Pirates hope to take advantage of Wells' home struggles as they go for their first road win since May 25. They are winless over the first six games of a nine-game road trip, getting swept in succession by Texas and Oakland.

Pittsburgh committed four errors in Sunday's 3-2 loss to the Athletics, making all three runs allowed unearned. The biggest came in the eighth inning, when catcher Jason Jaramillo dropped Kurt Suzuki's popup in foul territory with the game tied at two. Given second life, Suzuki belted a go-ahead solo homer off Evan Meek.

The setback gave the Pirates a 2-13 record in interleague play this season and extended their worst road stretch since dropping 19 straight from July 23-Aug. 30, 1985.

Lastings Milledge hit a solo homer and starter Ross Ohlendorf allowed two unearned runs over six innings.

"We stunk. We're not a very good team right now," Pirates manager John Russell said. "Too many stupid mistakes. We spoiled a very good start by our pitcher. Just can't play that way and expect to win."

That is almost exactly how starter Paul Maholm described his last start in Texas on Wednesday, when he gave up seven runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and four walks over just one-plus inning of work for the shortest outing of his career.

"I (stunk). There's no better way to say it," Maholm said. "It wasn't a good day, but I also understand that it's part of the game, and I'm going to be ready in five days."

Maholm, who turned 28 on Friday, has lost back-to-back starts and hasn't won since June 5. He is 4-6 on the season and his ERA has jumped from 3.77 to 4.24 in his last outing.

The lefty has bested the Cubs twice this season with a pair of six-inning, two-run performances and is 6-1 in 11 all-time starts versus the Cubs despite a 6.29 ERA.

Pittsburgh has won seven of nine versus Chicago this year, taking two of three at Wrigley Field on May 14-16.