Hurdle sets rotation for pivotal series with Cubs

Cole, Liriano, Burnett set to take mound at Wrigley

Hurdle sets rotation for pivotal series with Cubs

LOS ANGELES -- Clint Hurdle has set his pitching rotation for next weekend's critical series in Chicago.

Young ace Gerrit Cole will open for the Pirates on Friday in Wrigley Field on his regular schedule, and will be followed by veterans Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett, who will both pitch with extra rest.

Cole, facing the Dodgers in Sunday's series finale, will take the mound Friday afternoon on four days' rest.

Liriano will go on Saturday, seven days after his brilliant seven innings in Saturday night's 3-2 win over the Dodgers.

Burnett, who is scheduled to lead off a four-game series in Denver against the Rockies on Monday, is set to take the ball Sunday in Chicago.

Burnett whiffs seven over 5 1/3

The Bucs could secure a postseason berth before they unpack at Wrigley Field. But that would not alter Hurdle's plans, or his team's focus, as the NL Central title and home-field advantage for the NL Wild Card game presented by Budweiser are still in play.

"That's not how I work, not what we are concerned about," Hurdle said. "It takes us too much focus and concentration to get to this point to lose sight of the ultimate goal."

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.