The Chicago Cubs got back on a roll in their latest series at Wrigley Field and will get one more game there before leaving town for a pivotal series.
A matchup of high-profile pitchers seeking to rebound from difficult outings will highlight Monday's makeup contest at the Friendly Confines, where Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber will be the latest to face a high-powered Cubs lineup.
Chicago (71-51) bounced back from three consecutive losses by sweeping four from Atlanta, and the club added to its power surge Sunday with a season high-tying five homers in a 9-3 victory. Kris Bryant went deep twice, helping give the Cubs a major-league best 28 longballs in their last 11 games.
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"What I like is that we didn't settle for a split. We didn't settle for three out of four. We came out and played it for four out of four," manager Joe Maddon told MLB's official website. "That's impressive. You gotta give our players and coaches a lot of credit for that."
The Cubs are also averaging 7.7 runs on this seven-game homestand and will try to pad that in their first matchup against Kluber (8-13, 3.52 ERA), who won last year's AL Cy Young Award. The right-hander is coming off a 6-4 loss at Boston on Wednesday in which he gave up a season high-tying six runs and a career-worst four homers in six innings.
Kluber, who'd come off tossing back-to-back complete games, and manager Terry Francona said that pitching at Fenway Park hardly helped. His next start will come in another older stadium that also has its quirks, namely which direction the wind is blowing.
Chicago will try to add to Kluber's woes while earning its 20th win in 24 games before traveling to the West Coast. The Cubs have three games against their closest pursuer in the NL wild card race, San Francisco, and three against NL West-leading Los Angeles.
Choosing to keep their rotation on schedule instead of using a spot starter, Chicago hands the ball to Jon Lester (8-9, 3.58) as he seeks to bounce back from a 15-8 loss to Detroit on Wednesday. The left-hander gave up a season-high seven runs in 2 2-3 innings and ended a five-start stretch in which he went 4-0 with a 2.04 ERA.
Lester, who spent his first six seasons pitching for Francona in Boston, is 4-0 with a 1.77 ERA in his last six starts against the Indians - the most recent on June 12, 2014.
He'll face a team that played spoiler on the road this weekend, taking three of four from the New York Yankees and dropping them out of first place in the AL East. Cleveland (58-65) logged a 2.83 ERA in that series and yielded five hits in a 4-3 victory Sunday.
Francisco Lindor provided three hits and a home run for the second straight game.
"He's a good hitter," Francona said. "He's got bat speed from both sides of the plate, and he doesn't stop playing. ... There's a lot to love about this kid."
After a rainout June 15, the Indians took two of three from Chicago but endured their most lopsided defeat in 13 years June 17. Kyle Schwarber went 4 for 5 with two RBIs in that 17-0 victory, which marked his first major league start, and went 2 for 4 with his first homer in a 4-3 loss the next night.
Schwarber has 11 homers and 32 RBIs while batting .284 in his first 40 games with the Cubs, who have won 26 of those contests.
Addison Russell, batting .393 in his last eight, is day to day with an ailing groin.