Lackey waves off bullpen talk as Cubs face White Sox (Jul 25, 2017)

BY AP • July 24, 2017

CHICAGO -- John Lackey is quick to dispel any notion that he is bound for the Chicago Cubs' bullpen.

The veteran right-hander proved he could still pitch effectively last week against the Atlanta Braves, and he gets another chance to start Tuesday when the Cubs host the Chicago White Sox at Wrigley Field.

"That ship has sailed, that ain't going to happen," Lackey said of being moved to a relief role.

Lackey (6-9, 5.04 ERA) retired 12 of his last 15 batters in five effective innings last Tuesday at Atlanta, allowing one run and five hits. He dropped six of his previous seven decisions and was briefly sidelined with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

"There's two places for me to be -- starting or at home," Lackey said. "Except for the playoffs. In big games, we can compromise."

Now Lackey is part of a reviving Cubs starting rotation that posted a 2.41 ERA and a 7-0 record through the first nine games following the All-Star break as the Cubs made up 5 1/2 games in the standings to tie Milwaukee atop the NL Central before Monday's 3-1 loss.

Lackey is 4-7 with a 3.61 ERA in 17 career starts against the White Sox. He has pitched at least six innings in 15 straight starts against the White Sox, the longest active streak in the majors.

Lackey, who held the White Sox to one run and four hits in his first start against them as a Cub last season, will be opposed Tuesday by Carlos Rodon.

Rodon (1-3, 5.75 ERA) will attempt to give the White Sox consecutive wins for the first time since July 2-3. On Monday, Matt Davidson hit his 19th homer and Miguel Gonzalez pitched 7 1/3 innings to help the White Sox stop a nine-game losing streak.

Rodon has experienced his own struggles as he makes his fifth appearance since returning from the disabled list on June 28. Dealing with left biceps bursitis that left him sidelined for the season's first three months also helped him develop mentally.

"Every day has a purpose, and that was the main thing," Rodon said. "I was not as mature, I was a little young. (I thought) you roll out of bed and you can just throw."

The left-hander took the loss in his most recent start, allowing five runs on seven hits (including a career-high four home runs) over 3 2/3 innings in a 9-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.

"I thought it was going to be a pretty good one when I got out there," Rodon said. "I was throwing it well, ball was coming out good. I wasn't really missing down in the bullpen, but that doesn't matter when you're throwing that well down there. It's what happens in the game."

Rodon makes his second career start against the Cubs after earning a win on July 10, 2015, at Wrigley Field. He allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings in that game. He is is 3-4 with a 6.10 ERA in eight career interleague starts.

After the game at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, the White Sox and Cubs move across town for games Wednesday and Thursday at Guaranteed Rate Field.

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