MLB Picks: Pirates vs. Cubs Monday Betting Preview

Joe Freda

Monday, September 23, 2013 2:19 PM GMT

The Pittsburgh Pirates went 1-2 this weekend in a pivotal set with the Cincinnati Reds, outscored by a combined margin of 19-12. Now they face off against the Chicago Cubs, tonight at Wrigley Field in Chicago, at 8:05 p.m. ET.

Read Monday's Baseball Odds & Betting Lines Report for an early edge in today's games!

Monday’s MLB odds board now has Clint Hurdle’s crew visiting the Chicago Cubs, with Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.35 ERA) facing Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.42 ERA).

Pirates spanked in finale

Pittsburgh dropped its rubber match to Cincinnati with Sunday’s 11-3 defeat, failing to cash as a 117 home favorite. Pirates second baseman Neil Walker cracked a homer and double, while he and his mates were out-slugged in hits, 16-5.

Chicago logged a 5-2 setback against the Atlanta Braves on the same card, moving to 2-7 in its last nine contests. Cubs mates Starlin Castro and Luis Valbuena were held to a combined 0-for-7 day from their lineup’s top two spots, with Dale Sveum’s squad unable to collect as a 144 home dog.

Morton edged at home

Morton picked up a second straight no-decision in Wednesday’s 3-2 defeat for Pittsburgh as a 163 home favorite to the San Diego Padres. The New Jersey native held San Diego to one run over eight innings, while tossing nine strikeouts.

Pirates reliever Mark Melancon blew his chance for a save, giving up the Padres’ tying and go-ahead runs. Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen cracked his 20th homer, while Justin Morneau went 2-for-3 from the cleanup slot.

Samardzija goes seven

Samardzija last took the hill in Tuesday’s 4-3 defeat for Chicago to the Milwaukee Brewers, coming away with a no-decision as a 126 road dog. The 28-year-old allowed three runs over seven innings, giving up five hits and two walks.

Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo poked a long ball as part of a 2-for-4 night, while mate Nate Schierholtz drilled one of his side’s three doubles. Chicago’s Ryan Sweeney and Donnie Murphy were both held to 0-for-3 outings, with the contest’s combined seven runs ducking ‘Under’ the total of 7.5.

Back the Cubs at home

Early MLB betting lines opened Morton as a 135 road favorite, holding steady after mixed initial wagers. The weather forecast in Chicago calls for a clear 63 degrees, with calm winds blowing right to left.

I am adding Chicago as a home dog here to Monday’s sports picks, looking for the Cubs to cash in a tight duel.

Samardzija settled down last week after being shelled in his prior trio of outings, while Chicago is 2-1 in the Indiana native’s last three home starts. Pittsburgh enters hitting just .233 against righties on the road, while being an overvalued 5-13 in its last 18 spots as road ‘chalk.’

Morton has allowed a sizable 1.41 WHIP and .356 OBP away from home, while lit up for five runs over 1 2/3 frames in most recent road start. The Pirates are 0-4 in Morton’s last four outings against Chicago, including a 5-4 defeat earlier this month.

Look for the Cubs to play the spoiler role here as the season winds down, adding to their 3-1 mark in the team’s last four home matchups against the Pirates.

[gameodds]3/243875/?r3=43-349-192-19-999997-118-238-227/dec&r-1=43-349-192-19/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Bet the Chicago Cubs money line, +121 at Bet365

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