For the second time in three starts, Travis Wood will face the Pirates on Saturday. He won the first of those outings, and the start in between was his best of the season.
Wood got his sixth win of 2014 on June 10, when he held the Pirates to three runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings in Pittsburgh. He then went to the east side of the Keystone State and dominated the Phillies on Sunday.
The 27-year-old left-hander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and ended up throwing a season-best eight frames without allowing a run on three hits and struck out six batters. Wood hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his three June outings and has a 2.29 ERA this month.
"It's what we expect out of him every time," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of Wood's latest outing. "He's going to go out, throw strikes, usually work at a pretty fast tempo, and it's nice to play behind him."
Facing Wood will be Vance Worley, making his second start for the Bucs since being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis last week due to Francisco Liriano's left oblique injury. Worley, who had 56 big league starts with the Phillies and the Twins before this season, was effective in his Pirates debut Sunday, when he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Marlins but got a no-decision after the Pirates' bullpen faltered.
Worley could be moved back to Triple-A when right-hander Gerrit Cole comes off the disabled list (right shoulder fatigue), which could happen next week. However, Worley's spot starts are not going unnoticed.
"We're happy with the development," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "In Triple-A, he found some consistency in pitch sequences. He's given us one start, very solid. Look forward to giving him the ball again, see where he can take that. He's a tough kid. I'm excited just to see what he'll be able to do."
Cubs: Renteria not concerned by lack of production from outfield
The Cubs statistically have one of the lowest-ranking outfields in terms of production. Chicago ranks 27th in the Major Leagues and last in the National League for hitting by its outfielders (.236). The combined 17 homers they've hit is 11th in the NL. That said, manager Rick Renteria isn't worried.
"I'm not. I think they've all contributed in a positive way in one way, shape or form, whether it's been with the bat or with the defense," he said. "I just concern myself with the totality of how the club is playing. I can't just isolate one particular guy -- even though some guys are having some good years, some guys are having not-so-good years -- but collectively how we continue to play is my biggest concern."
Renteria doesn't have as much to be concerned with in terms of his club's overall play. The Cubs are 11-7 in the month of June and are 18-13 over their last 31 games.
Pirates: Bucs starting stretch against last-place teams
Every team would like to make a push heading into the All-Star break. The Pirates, a 35-38 team with playoff aspirations, have a great opportunity to do so as they just started a stretch of 13 straight games against teams in last place in their respective divisions.
The Pirates have two more games against the Cubs in Chicago this weekend, then travel to St. Petersburg for three games against the Rays before returning home for four games against the Mets and three against the D-backs. The Bucs haven't faced the Rays or D-backs this season, but are a combined 8-6 against the Cubs and Mets.
Pittsburgh has some work to do to match its early 2013 performance. The Pirates were 44-30 on June 21 of last year.
• Pirates right fielder Gregory Polanco has a hit in all 10 of his Major League games since debuting on June 10, a club record. Having faced Wood in his debut, Polanco will get a second look at a Major League starter for the first time Saturday.
• The Cubs have a chance to win their third straight series with another victory against Pittsburgh this weekend.
Stephen Pianovich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.