Although the Chicago Cubs are at the bottom of the pile in the NL Central, that doesn't mean they haven't been playing a huge role in the playoff race.
The last-place Cubs, who have been one of the Central's best teams for just over a month, will try to continue in their recent role of spoiler as they conclude a suspended game against the Pittsburgh Pirates before Saturday's regularly scheduled contest.Chicago (64-76) entered Friday's series opener at Wrigley Field with a division-best 22-15 record since July 28 before the game was suspended due to rain with one out in the seventh inning and the score tied 3-3.The Pirates and Cubs waited through a 37-minute rain delay in the fifth, but more storms rolled through the area in the top of the seventh. With more rain in the forecast, the game was called after a delay of 1 hour, 52 minutes.The Cubs had come off a three-game sweep that continued second-place Milwaukee's recent collapse and have a chance to dole out a little of the same to Pittsburgh (71-68), which has lost four in a row. With first-place St. Louis playing well over the last week, Chicago can continue helping the rival Cardinals widen the gap."I think we have to stay with it, because if the other team stays with it, we have to stay with it," Cubs catcher Welington Castillo told MLB's website. "We'll be fine."A division crown is certainly not out of the question for the Pirates and Brewers, and both teams are also neck-and-neck with Atlanta for the NL's second wild-card spot.While the pitching situation for the completion of the suspended game is unclear -- relievers would seem the obvious move -- the Cubs and Pirates will each send a left-hander to the mound for the second contest.Chicago sends out Felix Doubront (1-0, 1.29 ERA) as he tries to win two straight starts for the first time in 2014. Doubront, who was 2-4 with a 6.07 ERA in 17 appearances for Boston, got his first start for the Cubs in the opener of last Saturday's doubleheader against St. Louis and allowed one run and seven hits over seven innings in a 5-1 win.It was Doubront's first appearance at Busch Stadium since Game 4 of the World Series, when he earned the win in relief for the Red Sox."I was thinking about that, stepping on the mound and feeling the way I felt in the World Series last year," he said. "This is my team now. I give everything 100 percent and try to win games. I want to stay here and do the best job that I can."Opposing Doubront will be Francisco Liriano (3-10, 3.91), who hasn't won since July 29 and is coming off a disappointing August.Liriano's ERA for the month was a respectable 3.75 despite one dreadful outing in which he allowed nine runs over four-plus innings against Atlanta. He pitched well in his five other August starts, recording a 2.25 ERA, but received only six runs of support in the month and went 0-3.Pittsburgh dropped each of the six games Liriano started for the longest single-season team losing streak of his 10-year career.He worked seven strong innings against Cincinnati on Sunday and allowed only a two-run homer to Chris Heisey in the fifth, but failed to get a decision in a 3-2 loss."I had a tough fifth inning, but other than that, everything was working down," Liriano said. "I was using both sides of the plate down and in, everything was down. Just made a mistake in that fifth inning."Liriano has a 2.00 ERA without a decision in two starts against the Cubs this season.