LEADING OFF: Giants host surging Cubs; Strasburg streaking
A look at what's happening all around the major leagues today:
LET'S GET WILD
The Cubs have won 21 of 26 and can increase their 6 1/2-game cushion in the race for the second NL wild card when they open a three-game series at San Francisco. Jake Arrieta (15-6, 2.30 ERA) pitches for Chicago against Matt Cain (2-3, 5.66).
HEALTHY AT LAST
Stephen Strasburg looks to continue his dominant stretch as the Nationals, losers in eight of 12, host the Padres. The right-hander has a 1.35 ERA in three starts - all vs. NL West teams - since returning from the disabled list Aug. 8 following an oblique strain. San Diego sends out James Shields (9-5, 3.74), who picked up his first victory since mid-July his last time out.
Mike Trout and the Angels hope to turn around what's been a forgettable month as they start a three-game series at Detroit. The Angels are 8-14 in August and have lost four straight while their best player has had one of the worst months of his career. Trout is batting .205 with one homer in August, but showed signs of a breakout by going 3 for 4 in a 12-5 loss to Toronto on Sunday. Jered Weaver (5-9, 4.34 ERA) tries to play stopper for Los Angeles.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Noah Syndergaard takes another run at his first major league road win when the Mets play Philadelphia. The rookie is 7-1 with a 1.82 ERA in nine home starts, but 0-5 with a 5.05 ERA in nine outings on the road. New York has provided plenty of support for its pitchers lately, reaching 14 runs in three of the past four games.
The Pirates have won each of Charlie Morton's past five starts and seek a sixth straight against Miami. Morton has two wins and a 2.93 ERA during that span, blanking the Giants over 6 2-3 innings his last time out. The Marlins will start left-hander Brad Hand (3-3, 4.46).
EYES ON BETTIS
Rockies right-hander Chad Bettis makes his first start since July 18 when he faces the Braves. He has spent five weeks on the DL with right elbow inflammation. Manager Walt Weiss said Bettis will not be on a ''hard'' pitch count. Bettis is 5-4 with a 4.88 ERA in 13 starts. ''I think he's really accomplished a lot this year,'' Weiss said. ''He's finally settled into that starter's role.''