Mired in their longest losing streak in 15 years, the Chicago Cubs are in desperate need of a better outing from Matt Garza.
A start in Pittsburgh might help him get back on track.Garza will seek to end the Cubs' 11-game skid Sunday afternoon against the Pirates.The Cubs (15-31) are in the middle of their worst slump since an 0-14 start in 1997, and their latest defeat came in unusually frustrating fashion. With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning Saturday, Chicago reliever Rafael Dolis hit Pirates rookie first baseman Matt Hague with a pitch to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 victory."It hurt," said Hague, who was recalled Friday from Triple-A and has 15 career major-league at-bats. "Once I hit first base and then when people kept punching me (in celebration) right where I got hit, it didn't feel good, either."The hit batsman negated Chicago's rally from an early two-run deficit, with Starlin Castro hitting the tying triple in the fifth. Alfonso Soriano added his fifth homer in 11 games for the Cubs, after Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez drove in runs for the Pirates (22-24)."You are not going to win too many games when you score two runs," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose club has totaled 29 runs during the 11-game slide.Chicago likely won't snap its lengthy losing streak if Garza (2-2, 3.72 ERA) can't improve upon his last start. The right-hander was tagged for a season-high seven runs in three innings of Monday's 8-4 loss at Houston."That's not the Matt Garza I've seen," Sveum told the Cubs' official website. "He got out of whack somehow."Garza, who was 1-0 with a 1.75 ERA over his previous four starts, may be able to regain his form against Pittsburgh. He went 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against the Pirates last season, striking out 19 and walking two over 14 innings.Chicago's hitters will try for a better performance when they face Erik Bedard (2-5, 3.52), who has given up four runs in each of his last two outings. He avoided a loss Monday against the New York Mets when the Pirates rallied for a 5-4 victory after his five innings of work were completed.Now, Pittsburgh is going for both its first three-game sweep of the Cubs since May 4-6, 2010, and to match its longest winning streak of the season. The Pirates also won three in a row May 12-14.Bedard has never faced the Cubs, but Soriano is one of four current Chicago players who have faced the left-hander, going 5 for 6 with a home run and two doubles.Alvarez is 4 for 7 in his career off Garza, Jose Tabata is 3 for 4, and Clint Barmes has two homers in nine at-bats.