Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Preview, Sunday 9/16, 1:20 CT

Darwin Barney of the Chicago Cubs throws to first against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

With the Dodgers' win over the Cardinals Saturday night, those two teams are tied for the second wild-card spot. The Pirates, despite a 3-10 record this month (and they are 6-17 since they won in 19 innings over the Cardinals August 19), are still just two games back of that spot. The Phillies, despite losing Saturday to the Astros -- they've lost two of three to them, just after the Cubs beat Houston two out of three -- still trail by just three games. The Brewers are 2½ games back. The five-team tie is still looking eminently possible.

The Pirates will have to keep up the pace. The Cubs, playing hard these days but clearly less talented than the Bucs, will have quite a bit to say about the wild-card race the next two days -- and then about the NL Central race when the Reds come to town Tuesday.

Hey, it's about all we've got.

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Cubs lineup:

Mather CF, Barney 2B, Rizzo 1B, Soriano LF, Castro SS, Castillo C, Sappelt RF, Valbuena 3B, Volstad P

Pirates lineup was not available at the time this post was written. Check the BCB Twitter feed for the Pirates lineup.

Today's Starting Pitchers
Chris Volstad
Chris Volstad
vs. Jeff Locke
Jeff Locke
3-10 W-L 0-1
5.99 ERA 4.11
52 SO 13
36 BB 1
11 HR 3
vs. Pit -- vs. Cubs

2012 - Chris Volstad 3-10 17 17 0 0 0 0 91.2 106 63 61 11 36 52 5.99 1.55

2012 - Jeff Locke 0-1 4 2 0 0 0 0 15.1 15 7 7 3 1 13 4.11 1.04

Chris Volstad last faced the Pirates April 21, 2011, when he was still with the Marlins. But that game looks a lot like most of Volstad's early-season starts this year. Current Pirates are hitting .220 (11-for-50) against him with one home run (Pedro Alvarez). Volstad has posted a 4.08 ERA since August 1 and a 3.22 ERA in his last four starts.

Jeff Locke pitched six decent innings (two runs allowed) against the Cubs last Sunday in Pittsburgh, but the Cubs won anyway. Anthony Recker and Josh Vitters homered off Locke. Now read that last sentence again and tell me it makes any sense to you. I really have no idea what to expect from Locke; he is making just his seventh MLB start.

Today's game is on WGN.

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Today's first pitch thread will post at 1:20 p.m. CDT and the overflows at 2:20, 3:20 and 4:05 p.m. CDT. If you need more overflows due to extra innings or rain delays, post them in the fanshot section. Also please note: due to some under-the-hood changes, the sidebar box with the game thread links is no longer available. It seems you've found them with no problems, but if you haven't been able to find the overflow threads, click the "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" link under "Sections" on the left sidebar. They're all in there.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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