Confirming his first All-Star selection was well deserved, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo opened the second half of the season by moving into a tie for the NL lead in home runs.
As Rizzo looks to build on his second multi-homer game this season, Arizona’s Wade Miley will try to win a season-best third straight start while leading the Diamondbacks to their sixth win in nine games Saturday night.
Rizzo closed within one of his career high home run total set in 2013 and moved even with Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton for tops in the NL with his 21st and 22nd homers in Friday’s 5-4 loss in the opener of this three-game set at Chase Field.
Rizzo, the last player voted by fans onto the NL squad at the All-Star game, also knocked in three runs to move into a tie with fellow All-Star Starlin Castro for the team lead with 52.
”You want to keep on having good at-bats, not trying to hit home runs, just trying to hit the ball hard," said Rizzo, who has homered five times with seven RBIs in his last six road games for the Cubs (40-55).
Chicago’s slugger is hitting .308 with seven long balls and 17 RBIs in 91 at-bats versus left-handers this season, but is 1 for 10 lifetime when facing Miley (5-6, 4.18 ERA).
Miley hasn’t lost since June 1 and hasn’t given up a home run since June 18 versus Milwaukee. He’s also 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three July starts after giving up four hits over seven innings in a 2-0 win at San Francisco on July 12.
The left-hander has gone 2-1 with a 3.90 ERA in four career starts against the NL Central-worst Cubs, though he’s 2-0 with a 1.15 ERA in two home meetings.
He allowed five runs – three earned – over five innings at Wrigley Field on April 23, but did not fare in that decision when the Diamondbacks (41-56) scored five in the ninth for a 7-5 victory.
Justin Ruggiano, who hit a two-run homer off Miley in that meeting, is 5 for 21 with seven strikeouts over his last six games after going hitless in three at-bats Friday.
Miley has done a nice job against Castro, limiting him to two hits in 12 career at-bats. The shortstop went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in the opener, leaving him 5 for 38 with eight strikeouts over his last 10 games overall.
The Cubs, however, have averaged 5.6 runs while hitting .385 with runners in scoring position over their last five games. Still, they’re trying to avoid their fourth straight defeat and 10th in 12 games.
Since allowing three hits over eight innings in a 3-0 win at Philadelphia on June 15, Travis Wood (7-8, 4.96) is 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA in his last five outings. He gave up seven runs over six innings in a 10-7 home loss to Atlanta on Sunday.
The left-hander has a 6.05 ERA in 10 road starts this season and an 8.62 mark while dropping his last three visits to Arizona. Wood, though, surrendered one run with a season high-tying nine strikeouts over seven innings in a 5-1 home win April 21.
Paul Goldschmidt, who went 2 for 3 off Wood in that meeting, hit his 17th home run Friday. The All-Star first baseman is batting .405 with three homers and 13 RBIs over his last 11 games versus Chicago.