Cubs-Diamondbacks Preview

The Chicago Cubs have yet to win a road series outside their own

city. A visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks doesn’t offer a promising

chance to end that drought.

The Diamondbacks will try to add to their recent success at

Chase Field during Friday night’s opener of a three-game

series.

Chicago (24-45) managed to win its first road series of the

season earlier this week, taking the first two games of their

series on the South Side versus the White Sox before losing 7-0 in

Wednesday’s finale.

“You just always try to win series back to back and keep winning

series, especially when you haven’t won a lot,” manager Dale Sveum

told the team’s website. “If you keep winning series, you can

gradually get back into this thing in some kind of fashion

anyway.”

Sveum’s club might have a difficult task in its next attempt to

earn more road wins as the Diamondbacks (34-35) have won nine of 11

at home.

They produced a combined 30 runs and 41 hits while taking two of

three over visiting Seattle earlier this week and ended that set by

winning a 14-10 slugfest. Ryan Roberts’ inside-the-park homer was

one of a team record-tying six for Arizona.

Justin Upton’s three-run shot was his first home run since May

23 and sixth this season after hitting a career-high 31 in

2011.

“We need him to be that guy,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He’s

capable of being that guy. If he can turn it around, it’ll

certainly help where we’re headed.”

Upton and the Diamondbacks will try to keep things going against

Jeff Samardzija (5-5, 4.04 ERA), who will seek to avoid dropping a

career-worst third consecutive start.

The right-hander matched a personal high by giving up eight runs

over 3 2-3 innings in Minnesota on June 9 but had a better outing

Saturday against Boston. He gave up three runs and four hits over 5

1-3 innings but did not get any run support in a 4-3 defeat.

His counterpart in Friday’s game, Joe Saunders (4-5, 3.44), is

also hoping to get some more support after suffering a tough-luck

defeat to his former team, the Los Angeles Angels, on Saturday. The

left-hander gave up two runs over six innings for the second

straight outing in that 2-0 loss.

“Joe pitched a great game for us, battled his tail off, and

really only made one mistake (a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo),”

Gibson said.

While Samardzija is making his first start against Arizona,

Saunders is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in his two against the Cubs. He

gave up two runs and five hits over six innings during a 4-1 loss

at Wrigley Field on April 4, 2011.

Alfonso Soriano, who hit three homers in a four-game series last

year in Arizona, is batting .382 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs over

his last 16 games against the Diamondbacks. The 12 home runs are

his most versus any team over the last four seasons.

Miguel Montero hit .346 with two home runs in the seven games

against the Cubs last season. Roberts also hit a pair of homers in

the season series and is batting .353 over his last five

matchups.