Alfonso Soriano has consistently hit well against the Diamondbacks during his career. The Cubs hope that trend continues Friday as they try to win five in a row for the first time in nearly two years in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
After a season-high six-game skid, the Cubs (22-30) have outscored opponents 29-10 during their winning streak. The last three victories came against the White Sox, including an 8-3 win on Thursday as Travis Wood connected for a grand slam and allowed two runs over six innings.
The Cubs haven’t won five in a row since a seven-game run July 31-Aug. 6, 2011, but they figure to have a good chance if Soriano can continue his success against the D-backs (30-23).
Soriano has 14 home runs and 28 RBIs while hitting safely in 20 of his past 21 games against the Diamondbacks, going 31 for 71 (.437). His .757 slugging percentage across 40 games against them is his highest against any opponent.
The right-handed slugger will dig in against left-hander Wade Miley, who will try to get Arizona back on track after a 9-5 loss in Texas on Thursday ended a three-game winning streak. The club played its first in a stretch of 24 of 33 on the road, where it has lost three straight and four of five.
Miley (3-4, 4.53 ERA) is coming off his shortest start this year, having allowed seven runs and seven hits over 3 2/3 innings in a 10-4 loss to San Diego on Saturday. Five of those runs came with two outs in the fourth, which saw Miley struck by a liner on the way to his fourth loss in five starts.
“It hurt a little bit but it goes away,” said Miley, who owns a 6.91 ERA over his last five starts compared to 2.37 in his first five. “I just didn’t make pitches again. It wasn’t like I was throwing good and the comebacker happened (then) I threw bad. I was just very inconsistent through and through.”
Miley held Chicago to one run and three hits over eight innings in a 5-1 win June 24, with Soriano taking him deep. Friday will see a repeat of that game’s pitching matchup, with Matt Garza taking the mound for the Cubs.
Garza (0-0, 4.00) struggled Sunday in his second start since coming off the disabled list. He gave up four runs, four hits and four walks as he needed 92 pitches to get through four innings of a 5-4 victory in Cincinnati.
“There was no command of anything,” manager Dale Sveum said of Garza, who is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts against the D-backs. “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.”
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said third baseman Eric Chavez was headed back to Arizona for an MRI after he left in the first inning Thursday with a strained right oblique. Chavez had gone 15 for 36 with three homers and 12 RBIs over his last 10 games.
The Cubs have won 12 of 16 at home in this series since 2008.