Death, taxes and a losing record for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Those are the only certainties in life.

Okay, so it’s not a total guarantee, but the Buccos have failed to produce a winning record the past 18 seasons and 2010 doesn’t appear to be a winner either.

The Cubs had a .714 winning percentage (10-4) against Pittsburgh in ‘09, which was tied for the team’s highest winning percentage against a single opponent.

Under Lou Piniella, the Cubs are 32-15 against the Pirates.

One reason the Pirates (10-15) aren’t going anywhere again this year is because the team has given up a MLB-high 175 runs to its opponents, which is 19 runs more than the second highest team—the Arizona Diamondbacks, who the Cubs just scored 33 runs on in four games.

PNC Park isn’t the friendliest hitters’ park, but the Cubs did manage to hit .281 with 28 runs and seven home runs in six games last year.

Coming off an impressive series against the D’Backs, anything short of a three-game sweep for the Cubs (13-13) would be a disappointment.

Chicago cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates

Pitching matchups are subject to change .

Tuesday, May 4: Ryan Dempster (2-1, 2.78) vs. Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.83)
Wednesday, May 5: Ted Lilly (1-1, 4.91) vs. Charlie Morton (0-5, 12.57)
Thursday, May 6: Randy Wells (3-0, 3.45) vs. TBD

On the Mound

Surprisingly, the Pirates are one of the few teams that have befuddled Dempster in his career. Dempster is 6-7 with a 5.46 ERA against the Buccos, but some of that ERA can be attributed to 25 relief appearances as a closer.

That being said, he hasn’t lost to Pittsburgh since 2006.

Dempster has been a much better pitcher on the road to start the year. He’s 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in two road starts and 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in three home games.

Got ‘Yo Number

Cubs pitching went 10-4 with a 3.12 ERA against the Pirates last year, which was the staff’s best winning percentage (with four or more starts) against a single opponent.

At PNC Park, the staff compiled a 5-1 record and a 2.55 ERA in six starts. The Pirates’ staff went 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA against the Cubs in ’09.

At the Plate

The Cubs have two hitting streaks that have reached double digits in Ryan Theriot (12 games) and Mike Fontenot (10 games).

Theriot has six hits in 18 career at-bats against Maholm and four hits in six at-bats against Morton. Fontenot is one for four against Maholm and has never faced Morton.

If I had to choose one player, I’d pick Theriot to leave Pittsburgh with his hitting streak intact.

Series Prediction

Cubs, 3-0

I’m not just predicting a sweep because it would be a disappointment not to take all three, but the Cubs did enough to show me they can take advantage of below average pitching. Pittsburgh’s relievers have compiled a 5.83 ERA, the second worst in the majors, and the Cubs just pounded the D’Backs relief corps, who have the worst ERA in the MLB.

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