Cubs-Giants Preview

Throughout their 10-game road losing streak, the Chicago Cubs

have made nearly every starting pitcher they’ve faced look like a

potential All-Star.

To avoid matching the longest single-season road losing streak

in franchise history, they’ll need to figure out a way to beat an

actual All-Star, who also happens to be one of baseball’s top

pitchers over the past month.

On Monday, Ryan Vogelsong looks to lead the surging San

Francisco Giants to their first four-game winning streak of the

season and a four-game sweep of a Cubs team trying to elude

matching an ugly record set almost 60 years ago.

The Giants (30-24) have managed eight runs in the first three

games of this series, but that doubles Chicago’s output. Each team

had four hits Sunday, but San Francisco was also able to push a

pair of runs across the plate for a 2-0 win. Angel Pagan scored in

the fifth inning after doubling to set a Giants record by extending

his home hitting streak to 27 games, and Gregor Blanco scored from

first on Melky Cabrera’s hit-and-run single in the eighth.

Pagan is batting .381 during an 11-game hitting streak, while

Cabrera is batting .481 during a seven-game run.

The Giants have won three in a row for the sixth time this

season, and 12 of 17 to move within three games of the NL

West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Another victory Monday would give

San Francisco its first four-game sweep of the Cubs since June

17-20, 1999, and send Chicago into unflattering territory. The Cubs

(18-35), losers of 15 of 18 overall, would match the franchise’s

longest single-season road losing streak of 11, set June 18-29,

1954.

Manager Dale Sveum doesn’t need to look far to see why his team

is struggling so much away from Wrigley Field. Chicago’s offense

has been atrocious, totaling 12 runs in its last eight road games.

Opposing starting pitchers have a 1.02 ERA in the Cubs’ last nine

contests away from home.

“It’s a broken record,” Sveum said. “I don’t know what to say

to come up with something different to make it.”

In this series, the Cubs have been set down by Madison

Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Barry Zito, who have permitted three runs

over 24 1-3 innings. Tony Campana, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro

and Alfonso Soriano combined to go 0 for 14 Sunday, and the Cubs’

task may not get any easier in the finale against Vogelsong (3-2,

2.36 ERA).

Vogelsong has a 1.31 ERA in five starts at AT&T Park, and

his 1.51 overall ERA since the start of May is second-best in

baseball.

The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings against

Arizona on Tuesday, while matching a season high with eight

strikeouts. The Giants rallied for a 3-1 win, their fifth straight

with Vogelsong on the mound.

Vogelsong went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts against

Chicago last season, with Castro going 3 for 9 and Soriano 4 for 8

with a homer.

While the Cubs’ hitters could be in for a struggle Monday, the

same could be true for the Giants against Jeff Samardzija (5-3,

3.09).

Samardzija has a 2.12 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 46 2-3 innings

over his last seven starts, though a lack of run support has left

him with a 3-2 record.

With the wind blowing out at Wrigley on Tuesday against San

Diego, the right-hander yielded three runs while striking out eight

in seven innings of a 5-3 victory.

Samardzija, in his first full season as a starter, has a 1.59

ERA in five career relief appearances against the Giants.