Cubs try to push win streak to 5 in opener with Diamondbacks
The suddenly surging Chicago Cubs take aim at a rare five- game winning streak when they start a three-game series versus the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs have won four in a row and last won five straight during a seven-game run from July 31-Aug. 6 of the 2011 season.
Chicago won all three meetings with the cross-town rival Chicago White Sox and is fresh off Thursday's 8-3 win. Travis Wood hit a grand slam in the fourth inning to help his own cause and gave up two runs in six innings on the mound.
"I was a little excited," Wood said about his home run. "We were only up two (runs) and I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball and then we were up six."
Luis Valbuena went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a solo homer, while Nate Schierholtz also homered in a winning cause. The Cubs' winning streak comes on the heels of a six-game slide.
Matt Garza gets the ball for Chicago Friday night and he will make his third start of the season. He tossed five shutout innings in his 2013 debut on May 21 at Pittsburgh, then gave up four runs in four innings of a 5-4 win at Cincinnati on Sunday.
"There was no command of anything," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "Once again, when he was in the strike zone, it was foul ball after foul ball, and he got his pitch count up and got tired there."
Garza is 0-0 with a 4.00 earned run average and 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona looks to get back in the win column Friday and maintain its lead atop the NL West standings.
The Diamondbacks had won three in a row and four of five games until suffering a 9-5 loss at Texas on Thursday in the finale of a three-game home-and-home series with the Rangers. Brandon McCarthy was rattled in just 2 2/3 innings and gave up six runs and nine hits.
"It was just dead. I didn't have any life on my stuff," McCarthy admitted. "I had no ability to finish or command where I needed it to go. They took advantage. It was a fight right from the get-go. If you're not at your best, you're probably going to spend a lot of time backing up bases."
Paul Goldschmidt produced four hits and Martin Prado drove in a pair of runs for the D'backs, who lost despite collecting 14 hits to Texas' 15. Third baseman Eric Chavez left the game in the first inning with a strained right oblique and could land on the disabled list.
"Not a very good way to start out, very first inning and he goes down," D'backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He did something on the first swing and said he was OK, but on the second swing, there was something going on there."
Arizona will also visit St. Louis for four games on this road trip and will turn to Wade Miley Friday night at Wrigley Field. Miley, though, has lost three straight and four of five starts, and was banged around for seven runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings of a 10-4 loss to San Diego last Saturday.
Miley has allowed 15 runs over the past three starts and is 3-4 with a 4.53 ERA in 10 outings this season. The right-hander won his only start against the Cubs last June 24, when he fired eight innings of one-run ball and struck out seven in a 5-1 win at Chase Field.
The D'backs won five of nine matchups with the Cubs last season.