White Sox-Cubs Preview

While local interest for Chicago’s annual crosstown series might

be waning, the White Sox and Cubs are only focused on continuing

their respective recent successes.

With each club looking for a third consecutive victory, the

White Sox try to carry over last week’s success against the Cubs on

the South Side over to Friday at Wrigley Field.

A midweek series between two teams with records below .500 could

have contributed to the relatively small crowds that turned out at

U.S. Cellular Field to watch the White Sox (40-42) take two of

three from the Cubs from June 20-22. Only one game drew more than

36,000 fans, well below the stadium’s 40,000-plus capacity.

“I guess it’s whatever you make it out to be,” White Sox pitcher

Gavin Floyd told the team’s official website. “A lot of times, it’s

a great atmosphere.”

With warm weather predicted this weekend, the crowds are

expected to be larger on the North Side as the White Sox try for a

third straight victory over the Cubs (34-48), who have not won a

series against their crosstown rival since a three-game sweep at

Wrigley from June 20-22, 2008.

The White Sox have won 13 of 18 in the series since then,

including four of six at Wrigley.

“We just hope to keep doing what we’ve been doing against them,”

White Sox outfielder Brent Lillibridge said.

The White Sox head to Wrigley after taking the final two of a

three-game set in Colorado.

Juan Pierre had three hits in Thursday’s 6-4 win, including the

decisive two-run single in the top of the 10th. Though he’s been

inconsistent overall in 2011, Pierre is 9 for 19 with four RBIs

over the last four games.

“He’s one of the players we need the most,” manager Ozzie

Guillen said. “He’s starting to swing the bat better.”

Pierre, however, has hit .160 in his last 15 games against the

Cubs.

Paul Konerko has homered in four of his last five games versus

the Cubs, and is batting .343 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in

his last 18 at Wrigley.

Scheduled White Sox starter Edwin Jackson (4-6, 4.13 ERA) has

not had much success against the Cubs, going 0-2 with an 8.44 ERA

in three starts. He allowed eight runs and 11 hits in four innings

of a 10-5 loss in his only appearance on the North Side while with

Arizona on May 2, 2010.

Jackson is also 0-1 in his last five starts overall since

beating the Dodgers on May 22. He pitched well last Friday against

Washington, surrendering five hits in seven scoreless innings, but

the White Sox lost 9-5 in 14 innings.

The right-hander faces a Cubs team that is trying for a

season-high third consecutive victory. The Cubs have won two in a

row on eight other occasions in 2011, but dropped the third contest

each time.

One day after Aramis Ramirez’s RBI single gave the Cubs a 2-1

victory over the Giants, he hit a game-tying homer in the ninth and

Geovany Soto’s three-run shot highlighted a four-run 13th in

Thursday’s 5-2 win.

Ramirez is batting .385 with five homers and seven RBIs over the

last seven games.

“He’s not only a great hitter, but a great clutch hitter,” Cubs

catcher Koyie Hill said.

Ramirez, however, is batting .105 in his last 10 games against

the White Sox.

Scheduled Cubs starter Randy Wells (1-2, 6.25) is 1-1 with a

5.25 ERA in two career starts against the White Sox. The

right-hander allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits in six

innings of a 6-3 loss at Kansas City on Sunday.