White Sox-Cubs Preview

By no means is a .500 record something to celebrate, but for the

Chicago White Sox it would mean they’ve further distanced

themselves from a disastrous start.

The White Sox try to get back to the break-even mark for the

first time in 2 1/2 months and win their fourth straight over the

crosstown Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

After owning the majors’ worst record (11-22) on May 6, the

White Sox have managed to creep back into the AL Central race. They

are now within one game of returning to .500 for the first time

since being 7-7 on April 16.

A reason for the White Sox’s turnaround has been their play

against the NL.

They are 10-6 in interleague play and have won 18 of 19 series

against the Senior Circuit. The White Sox (41-42) are trying to win

their 10th consecutive interleague series on the road after posting

a 6-4 win Friday, their 14th in 19 meetings with the Cubs

(34-49).

The White Sox scored four times in the seventh inning after

trailing by two. Alexei Ramirez tied the game with a two-run homer

and Juan Pierre put them ahead with a two-run triple.

Pierre has received a lot of criticism for owning a .321 on-base

percentage – one of the worst among leadoff hitters in baseball –

but he finally appears to be looking comfortable at the plate. The

former Cub had the tiebreaking two-run single in the 10th inning in

Thursday’s 6-4 win over Colorado and is batting .435 with six RBIs

during a five-game hitting streak.

“I know Juan is a good player,” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “Not

because he won the last two games for us.”

Aramis Ramirez put the Cubs up 4-2 on Friday with a solo shot in

the sixth – the 300th homer of his career – before they lost for

the ninth time in 14 games.

Ramirez is batting .441 with six home runs and nine RBIs in his

last nine games, and nine of his 11 homers have come in the last

24.

“(Ramirez is) really playing well and anchoring this thing,”

manager Mike Quade told the Cubs’ official website.

He’ll look to continue his surge against Philip Humber (7-4,

2.89 ERA), who tries to bounce back from his first loss in two

months.

Humber carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning against

Washington on Sunday, but his two-out walk in the seventh was

followed by a homer in a 2-1 loss. The right-hander allowed three

hits in 6 2-3 innings in losing for the first time since April 30,

snapping a string of winning five straight decisions.

Humber, who is holding NL opponents to a .192 batting average in

three starts, will make his first appearance against the Cubs.

Chicago counters with Matt Garza (4-6, 4.07), who allowed three

runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings in Monday’s 7-3 win over

Colorado. He gave up two homers and has yielded five in 18 1-3

innings over his last three starts.

Prior to facing Colorado, Garza surrendered a solo shot to Paul

Konerko at U.S. Cellular Field on June 21. The right-hander gave up

two runs and four hits in five innings before a lengthy rain delay

ended his night. The Cubs lost 3-2 and Garza didn’t receive a

decision.

Konerko is 5 for 8 with two homers, two doubles and two walks

against Garza.