Cubs-White Sox Preview
Extending that run to five may not be a problem.
The White Sox, who used a major power display to sweep the Cubs last month, welcome the team with baseball's worst record to U.S. Cellular Field for Monday night's opener of a three-game set.
The Cubs (22-44) have dropped nine of their last 12 games on the South Side since 2009, and figure to be in for another challenge.
The White Sox (35-31) outhomered the Cubs 8-2 in sweeping three games at Wrigley Field from May 18-20, with Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham each going deep twice.
Dunn entered that series hitless with 13 strikeouts in his previous 22 at-bats against the Cubs. Now, though, he has five homers and 12 RBIs over his last eight games, leads the majors with 23 home runs and also has a major league-best 15 RBIs in interleague play in 2012.
Beckham's .349 average against the Cubs is his best against any opponent he has faced in more than three games. He has hit safely in 18 of 19 career games against them.
The White Sox have to like their chances as they face Matt Garza (2-5, 4.04 ERA), who is 0-4 with a 5.26 ERA in his last seven starts - all losses for the Cubs. He gave up five runs over six innings Wednesday in an 8-4 home defeat to Detroit.
The right-hander is 1-4 with a 5.17 ERA in seven career starts against the White Sox, including one in the postseason. Paul Konerko, second on the all-time list with 56 interleague homers and third with 160 RBIs, is 6 for 12 with two homers off Garza.
The White Sox are staggering home after Sunday's 2-1, 10-inning loss to the Dodgers capped a 2-4 trip.
Manager Robin Ventura lifted rookie starter Jose Quintana after 77 pitches through eight scoreless innings. The move backfired in the ninth, as closer Addison Reed failed to hold a 1-0 lead and suffered his first blown save.
"You play this many games, and teams are fairly close and it's just one of those things that happens," Ventura said. "Reeder is going to be our closer tomorrow and that's just the way it is."
The Cubs' only homers in last month's series against the White Sox came off Zach Stewart (1-1, 5.18), who will make his first start of the season Monday.
Stewart will try to fare better against the Cubs than he did May 19, when he allowed homers to Alfonso Soriano and Joe Mather and was charged with four runs in one inning of relief in the White Sox's 7-4 win.
The right-hander went 2-6 with a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts last year, but this will be his first start versus the Cubs.
"I'm real excited about it," Stewart told the White Sox's official website. "It should be a packed house. It's a big series."
Manager Dale Sveum said the Cubs will likely activate catcher Geovany Soto, out since May 17 after knee surgery, from the 15-day disabled list for Monday's game. Sveum also said he will use Alfonso Soriano at designated hitter for all three games of this series.
The Cubs fell to 3-9 in interleague play after Sunday's 7-4 defeat to Boston, loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth but only pushing one run across the plate.
"We can't score when it's close, or we can't make a pitch when it's close to hold them or shut them down, or get the game into extra innings,'' Sveum said. "We have to be better at those things, somebody stepping up and getting a big hit when it counts, not when we're four and five runs down.''