After squaring off against several formidable pitchers during his losing streak, it appears Pittsburgh's Kevin Correia could be catching a break as the Chicago Cubs turn to Paul Maholm.
Facing an abysmal Cubs offense should also help Correia's cause.
Correia tries to avoid losing his sixth straight start and send scuffling Chicago to its 11th consecutive defeat Saturday night as Maholm pitches for the first time as a visitor at PNC Park.
Correia (1-5, 4.50 ERA) was in position to end his skid Sunday in Detroit with the Pirates (21-24) leading 2-1 after six innings, but the right-hander didn't record another out while allowing two more runs and was saddled with a 4-3 loss. He gave up three runs and four hits while walking none.
During his five-start losing streak, Correia has opposed Tim Hudson, Johnny Cueto, Stephen Strasburg, Josh Johnson and Max Scherzer. Not surprisingly, he hasn't had much help from his offense. Correia has received either one or two runs of support in all eight of his starts, an average of 2.35 that's fifth-worst in the majors.
"He's had some tough draws," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website.
His counterpart Saturday doesn't seem as intimidating, though Maholm (4-3, 4.73) at least has the benefit of facing the team with which he spent the first seven years of his major league career - and one that struggles mightily to score.
The same could be said for Chicago's punchless lineup.
The Cubs (15-30), losers of 10 straight since beating St. Louis on May 14, have plated six runs while striking out 52 times in their last five games.
In dropping Friday's series opener 1-0, Chicago - in the midst of its worst losing streak since opening 0-14 in 1997 - went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. The Cubs are batting .087 (4 for 46) with runners on second or third and have left 47 on in the last five contests.
"It's unbelievable,'' manager Dale Sveum said. "We outhit the opponent every night and can't score.''
Starlin Castro, moved up a spot in the order to No. 2 on Friday, has watched his average drop 16 points during the skid to .315, while cleanup hitter Bryan LaHair is batting .069 (2 for 29) with a solo homer and 12 strikeouts.
Correia split his four starts with the Cubs last season, posting a 1.35 ERA in his two wins - both at Wrigley Field. He had a 20.65 ERA in losing his two outings against them at PNC.
Maholm was drafted by Pittsburgh with the eighth pick in the 2003 draft and made his major league debut two years later. The left-hander never quite lived up to expectations with the Pirates, though, going 53-73 with a 4.36 ERA in 185 starts.
He signed with Chicago as a free agent in January, and has sandwiched four victorious starts between four that were fairly ugly. He has a 1.07 ERA in his four wins, but a 9.30 ERA in his other four outings. Maholm gave up five runs - including three homers - and a season-high nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of Sunday's 6-0 loss to the White Sox.
Maholm should have a decent chance of bouncing back, however. Pittsburgh, which has scored five times in the last three games, has plated a major league-worst 127 runs and is last in the NL in batting at .217.
Andrew McCutchen, the team leader in average (.331), homers (seven) and RBIs (24), was hitless Friday and is batting .200 in his last 10 games against the Cubs. He is 13 for his last 21 (.619) with three homers versus left-handers, though.