Giving the ball to Edinson Volquez could help them avoid losing two in a row.Volquez tries to stay unbeaten in 11 appearances against the Cubs as these NL Central rivals wrap up their season series Sunday.After winning 7-3 on Friday, Pittsburgh (78-70) fell 6-4 on Saturday for its second loss in nine games. The Pirates scored four runs over the last two innings but couldn't complete the rally, dropping 3 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the division lead."We go where the game takes us. We know what we're playing for," manager Clint Hurdle, whose club remains 1 1/2 games ahead of Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot, told MLB's official website. "Regardless of the score, we continue battling, playing the next inning, not the last one."It's been almost eight weeks since Volquez (11-7, 3.36 ERA) last lost, going 3-0 with a 2.29 ERA over a nine-start stretch. Snapping that run could prove difficult for the Cubs, who have never defeated the right-hander. Volquez threw seven strong innings in a 4-0 home win June 12, improving to 6-0 with a 3.12 ERA against Chicago.Volquez gave up three runs over six innings Tuesday but went without a decision in a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia, his fourth road start in five outings. He's allowed two runs or fewer in five of his last six at home.The Cubs (65-83) had been outscored 55-13 during a season-worst seven-game losing streak before breaking through Saturday. Matt Szczur went 2 for 4 with his first homer and fellow rookie Javier Baez went deep for the second straight day."I'm just trying to go up to the plate with a good approach," Baez said. "I've been working with (hitting coach Bill Mueller) and trying to have better at-bats. I've felt more comfortable the last few days."While Baez is batting .174 since getting called up Aug. 5, nine of his 27 hits have left the yard."Apparently, that's all he does," Saturday's losing pitcher Jeff Locke said. "He's hitting below .200, he finds the bat barrel, that's for sure."Chicago's Jacob Turner (5-9, 5.84) allowed five runs over six innings in Monday's 8-0 loss at Toronto, dropping to 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three starts since being acquired from Miami on Aug. 8.This marks the right-hander's first appearance against Pittsburgh. The only Pirate with any experience against Turner is Ike Davis, who is 2 for 10 with a double.Andrew McCutchen is batting .441 with two homers and two doubles over an eight-game stretch. He's hit safely in 11 of his last 12 against the Cubs, batting .408 with nine extra-base hits -- four homers -- and 12 RBIs.Pittsburgh has taken 13 of 18 from Chicago this year, going 6-3 at home. The Cubs, 4-12 in their last 16 at PNC Park, haven't posted back-to-back wins there in the same season since a three-game sweep Sept. 7-9, 2012.
Edison Volquez has thrown his curveball at a rate of 24.6 percent since the All-Star Break, the sixth-highest frequency in the league among qualifiers. The Chicago Cubs are slugging .363 in at-bats that end with a curveball, the fifth-highest rate in the league this season.