The Chicago Cubs are starting to show some signs of life at the plate.
Coming off a third straight productive offensive performance, the Cubs look to win consecutive games for the first time in Thursday's series finale against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.Chicago (3-5) had one of the majors' worst offenses last season, averaging 3.7 runs, hitting .238 overall and .218 with runners in scoring position. The Cubs continued that trend while losing four of their first five in 2014 behind eight total runs, a .216 overall average and .100 (4 for 40) clip when runners reached second base.Since then, the Cubs have scored 21 runs, hit .300 overall and .375 (9 for 24) with runners in scoring position to win two of three.Anthony Rizzo had four hits and Mike Olt hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs as Chicago overcame five solo homers from the Pirates (5-3) to win 7-5 on Wednesday."We had some well-struck balls," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "They did there at the end, too, so it was a good night to hit."Rizzo is 10 for 15 with three RBIs in four games after going 2 for 17 with two RBIs over the first four. However, he's even more pleased that his team is starting to see some positive results."I was excited," Rizzo said. "We had a great atmosphere in here after the game."Teammate Emilio Bonifacio added two more hits and is batting .500 (19 for 38) on the season. He is 16 for 26 in five games against the Pirates this year.Chicago could face a tough test looking to stay hot at the plate against scheduled Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole (1-0, 2.57 ERA), who went 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA against the Cubs in his first major-league season last year.Though he threw 108 pitches in seven innings Friday, the right-hander allowed only a two-run homer and five other hits during a 12-2 win over St. Louis."His command was come-and-go," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website. "To average 15 pitches on a night you're not sharp ... that speaks to his ability to go out there against a good lineup and find a way to get things done when he doesn't have his best stuff."Cole has a 1.64 ERA while winning his last five regular-season starts, including both against the Cubs.Chicago counters with Travis Wood (0-1, 4.26), who was 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in three starts versus Pittsburgh last season while receiving one run of support in those outings.The left-hander allowed four runs and six hits while fanning eight in 6 1/3 innings of a 7-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday."I'd like to have a couple pitches back, but other than that, I thought I kept us in the game," Wood told the Cubs' official website.Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez is 1 for 15 with six strikeouts against Wood, but he homered twice Wednesday.The third baseman is 4 for 8 with four RBIs in the series after going 3 for 22 with two home runs and three RBIs in the first six contests.