CHICAGO — It’s Day 19 of the Walker Watch, and I have a bit of (but not much) good news to share. Neil Walker (lower back pain) is not in the lineup again today. “The day off did me a lot of good,” Walker said. “We’re going to see how batting practice goes today. Hopefully, all goes well and I’ll be available to pinch-hit today and we’ll see where it goes from there.” Walker said his rehab process has focused on core- and leg-strengthening exercises. “We’re close now,” he said. “Since it’s a back issue, I want to be very, very sure before I go back on the field.” Walker has seen two back specialists. “They both told me, ‘It’s off how you feel.’ So when I started to take batting practice from both sides and when I went against (Jeff) Karstens (Tuesday in a sim game), the days after those events were the big days for me and I didn’t feel great after doing both of those. I’ll take batting practice today and we’ll see where I go from there.”
»»» The Pirates have won seven of their past eight series at Wrigley Field. Dating back to 2009, the Pirates are 15-8 with a 3.53 team ERA and have scored 4.9 runs per game at the Friendly Confines.
»»» Doesn’t anybody want that final NL wild card? Despite a 4-11 skid, the Pirates have not lost any ground on the Cardinals. The Bucs are three games behind the Cards today, the same spot they were in at the start of the day Aug. 28.
Game 143: Pirates @ Cubs, 2:20 p.m. ET
Pirates (72-70): 1. Brock Holt 2b, 2. Starling Marte lf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Gaby Sanchez 1b, 6. Michael McKenry c, 7. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 8. Clint Barmes ss, 9. James McDonald rhp (12-7, 3.93)
Cubs (56-87): 1. David DeJesus rf, 2. Luis Valbuena 3b, 3. Anthony Rizzo 1b, 4. Alfonso Soriano lf, 5. Starlin Castro ss, 6. Steve Clevinger c, 7. Brett Jackson cf, 8. Darwin Barney 2b, 9. Chris Rusin lhp (0-2, 5.73)