Both the D-backs (60-45) and Cubs (56-48), who will play six times over the next two weeks, did some minor tweaking at the trade deadline to reinforce their rosters for a postseason push over the last two months of the season.
The D-backs' hand was forced because of starting shortstop Chris Owings' broken finger that will keep him out for two months minimum and the death of Ketel Marte's mother, which resulted in Marte taking bereavement leave. So in comes veteran infielder Adam Rosales, who likely will split time at shortstop with utility man Daniel Descalso until Marte returns.
The D-backs also added another piece to their bullpen by re-acquiring right-hander David Hernandez.
The Cubs added a key piece to their bullpen in left-hander Justin Wilson, who had been closing for the Tigers but will now serve as a setup man for Wade Davis. Also coming over in the deal was catcher Alex Avila, who'll be in reserve behind starter Willson Contreras.
D-backs starting pitcher Patrick Corbin
Corbin limited the Braves to two runs over six innings in his most recent start on Wednesday. He's given up two runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts, lowering his season ERA from 5.19 to 4.36.
He is just 2-6 with a 6.19 ERA in nine road starts but had one of his best outings of the year on July 20 in Cincinnati, working seven innings and yielding just one run.
Corbin is 3-0 with a 3.32 ERA in three career starts vs. the Cubs. He outpitched Jake Arrietta in a 3-2 victory last June at Wrigley Field, limiting the Cubs to five hits and two runs over seven innings.
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Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester (8-6, 3.88 ERA)
Lester got the win over the White Sox in his most recent start on Thursday, limiting them to four hits and two runs -- both solo homers -- over seven innings. He is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA since the All-Star break, giving up just 10 hits, two walks and five runs over 22 innings while striking out 20.
He is 2-0 with a 4.63 ERA in four career starts vs. the D-backs.
Lester has been more home run prone this season than at any time over the past 10 years -- surrendering 1.32 per nine innings, compared with a career rate of 0.85. He is limiting left-handed batters to a .184 average with one home run in 112 plate appearances.
This will be the first left-handed starter the D-backs have faced since July 16. They are batting just .232 vs. lefties on the season, but the addition of J.D. Martinez to the lineup should help in that regard. Martinez has five home runs and 12 RBI in his first nine games with Arizona.
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Cubs catching fire
The defending world champs have finally shifted into high gear after a maddeningly inconsistent first half of the season. They are 13-2 since the All-Star break to streak past the slumping Brewers and take the NL Central lead.
Catcher Willson Contreras has five home runs and 16 RBI since the break, and outfielder Kyle Schwarber has returned from a brief minor-league exile to hit four home runs in 14 games. Schwarber is up to 17 home runs on the season, but his batting average is still mired at .187.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo, who leads the team with 24 home runs and 67 RBI, sat out Sunday's 4-2 win over Milwaukee with an aching back and could get some additional recovery time. "There's no reason to push him right now," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We've had it before with him, so day off tomorrow, hopefully by Tuesday. And if not, more than likely by Wednesday, but we want to call it 'day to day' right now."
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The Diamondbacks are still in the driver's seat for a wild-card berth, but the start of this 10-game road trip wasn't kind to them. They outscored the Cardinals 13-5 in a four-game series in St. Louis but only managed a split of the two games because of continued struggles to hit with runners in scoring position (3 for 23 in the series). They lost Owings for virtually the rest of the regular season and also will be without All-Star pitcher Robbie Ray until he recovers from a concussion that occurred when he was hit in the back of the head by a line drive.
They are 10-17 over their last 27 games, but manager ToreyLovullo has done his best to keep the clubhouse on an even keel. "The difference between where we were and where we are now is very minute," catcher Chris Iannetta said. "We know we're going to turn the page at any point in time."
Jake Lamb ended a seven-game hitless streak with a single on Sunday, but he's 1 for his last 21 at-bats and is hitting .163 (8 for 49) since the All-Star break. Lamb is hitting just .129 against lefties for the season.
Paul Goldschmidt had a six-game hitting streak come to an end on Sunday. He has 10 hits in his last 22 at-bats with nine walks and is hitting .340 since the All-Star break with a .486 on-base percentage.