Is Thursday the day that Cubs starter Chris Volstad finally wins another major-league game? The big right-hander, acquired in the Carlos Zambrano from Miami this offseason, last won a game on July 10, 2011. He’s only in the rotation because the Cubs traded Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm at the deadline.
Miami at NY Mets – Marlins RHP Josh Johnson (7-7, 3.85) vs. Mets RHP R.A. Dickey (14-3, 2.82): JJ is 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA lifetime against the Mets, but he is 1-1 (3.63) in six starts at Citi Field. He comes off a terrific 8 2/3-inning, nine-strikeout win in Washington. He is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA since the All-Star break. … It was not until the fifth inning that Dickey allowed a hit last Friday in San Diego. But the Padres plated three late runs against him, two of them earned, to hand Dickey his third loss. His next start will come at Citi Field, where he is 6-1.
San Francisco at St. Louis – Giants LHP Madison Bumgarner (12-6, 3.03) vs. Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (9-10, 4.03): Bumgarner has struck out at least seven batters in his last four starts, totaling 33 strikeouts in 26 innings. He also has not allowed more than six hits in any of his last five starts. He needs one more win to equal his 2011 total. … Wainwright was sensational in his 98-pitch, complete-game win on Saturday. His fastball command returned after he focused on improving it during his in-between start session. Wainwright worked with a rapid pace and allowed five hits and one run.
Arizona at Pittsburgh – Diamondbacks LHP Joe Saunders (5-8, 3.57) vs. Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez (7-10, 3.82): Saunders pitched well in his last outing, allowing just two runs over 6 1/3 innings against the Phillies. Unfortunately for him, he faced Roy Halladay, who blanked the D-backs in a 3-0 Arizona loss. … The veteran lefty Rodriguez makes his first PNC Park start since his July 24 trade from Houston. He comes off a sharp start against the Reds, in which in seven innings he allowed three runs — two of them on a home run by his pitching opponent (Mat Latos).
Cincinnati at Chicago Cubs – Reds RHP Mike Leake (4-7, 4.51) vs. Cubs RHP Chris Volstad (0-8, 7.22): While he didn’t earn the win, Leake tossed a successful outing Saturday against Pittsburgh, allowing four runs on six hits through six innings, striking out seven. He allowed multiple home runs for the sixth time this season. … Volstad is winless in his last 21 starts, but his last outing against the Dodgers was his best with the Cubs. He threw with conviction and mixed his pitches well. The tough part was he was matched up against Clayton Kershaw.
Washington at Houston – Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-6, 2.45) vs. Astros RHP Lucas Harrell (9-7, 3.98): Zimmermann snapped his season-long streak of six-inning outings Saturday, when he gave up five runs (four earned) over five frames in a no-decision vs. Miami. Pitching on an extra day of rest, he posted his first non-quality start since May 28. … Harrell has become the Astros’ most consistent starter this season and has acted as their stopper in his last two starts. He beat the Pirates July 29 to snap the team’s 12-game losing streak and beat the Braves six days later to end a four-game skid.