The Chicago Cubs hope that trend continues Friday as they try to win five in a row for the first time in nearly two years in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
After a season-high six-game skid, the Cubs (22-30) have outscored opponents 29-10 during the winning streak. The last three victories came against the White Sox, including 8-3 on Thursday as Travis Wood connected for a grand slam and allowed two runs over six innings.
The Cubs haven't won five in a row since a seven-game run July 31-Aug. 6, 2011, but figure to have a good chance if Soriano can continue his success against Arizona (30-23).
Soriano has 14 home runs and 28 RBIs while hitting safely in 20 of his past 21 games versus the Diamondbacks, going 31 for 71 (.437). His .757 slugging percentage across 40 games against them is his highest versus any opponent.
The right-handed slugger will dig in against left-hander Wade Miley , who tries to get Arizona back on track after a 9-5 loss at Texas on Thursday ended a three-game winning streak. The club played its first in a stretch of 24 of 33 on the road, where it has lost three straight and four of five.
Miley (3-4, 4.53 ERA) is coming off his shortest start this year, allowing seven runs and seven hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 10-4 loss to San Diego on Saturday. Five of those runs came with two outs in the fourth, which saw Miley struck by a liner on the way to his fourth loss in five starts.
"It hurt a little bit but it goes away," said Miley, who owns a 6.91 ERA over his last five starts compared to 2.37 in his first five. "I just didn't make pitches again. It wasn't like I was throwing good and the comebacker happened (then) I threw bad. I was just very inconsistent through and through."
Miley held Chicago to one run and three hits over eight innings in a 5-1 win June 24, with Soriano taking him deep.
Friday will see a repeat of that game's pitching matchup with Matt Garza taking the mound for the Cubs.
Garza (0-0, 4.00) struggled Sunday in his second start since coming off the disabled list. He gave up four runs, four hits and four walks as he needed 92 pitches to get through four innings of a 5-4 victory at Cincinnati.
"There was no command of anything," manager Dale Sveum said of Garza, who is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three starts versus Arizona. "Once again, when he was in the strike zone, it was foul ball after foul ball, and he got his pitch count up and got tired there."
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said third baseman Eric Chavez was headed back to Arizona for an MRI after he left in the first inning Thursday with a strained right oblique. Chavez had gone 15 for 36 with three homers and 12 RBIs over his last 10 games.
The Cubs have won 12 of 16 at home in this series since 2008.
|May 30, 2013||Eric Chavez||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|May 26, 2013||Ian Kennedy||Day-to-Day||Cut on right index finger|
|May 08, 2013||J.J. Putz||15-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|April 27, 2013||Didi Gregorius||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|April 27, 2013||Didi Gregorius||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|April 15, 2013||Aaron Hill||15-Day DL||Broken left hand|
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 26, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||Day-to-Day||Left game - Right forearm strain|
|May 22, 2013||Shawn Camp||15-Day DL||Sprained right big toe|
|April 14, 2013||Steve Clevenger||60-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|April 13, 2013||Steve Clevenger||Day-to-Day||Left oblique injury|
|April 13, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
CHICAGO (AP) -- Scott Hairston and Matt Garza kept the Chicago Cubs on a roll.
Hairston hit a grand slam and Garza got his first victory of the season and the Cubs extended their winning streak to five games by defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-2 on Friday.
Alfonso Soriano had a two-run homer and Cody Ransom added a solo shot for the Cubs, who scored all their runs on homers and have won five straight for the first time since winning seven in a row from July 31-Aug. 6, 2011.
The Cubs are still in fourth place in the NL Central, but they've shown signs of a turnaround.
Starting with a comeback 5-4 win last Sunday at Cincinnati that ended a six-game skid, Chicago has outscored opponents 36-12 and has a plus-11 run differential, which is seventh-best in the National League.
"We're playing catch-up to everyone else but the fact of the matter is it's still a long season," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
"You've seen it before when teams can win 15 in a row, 14 out of 16 something like that and all of a sudden before you know it you're right back in it and starting to have a lot of fun."
The Cubs had plenty of fun Friday, and the win looked similar to their three victories over the White Sox when they outscored their rivals 24-6.
Hairston's grand slam was the second in two games for the Cubs and was the highlight of a five-run third off Arizona starter Wade Miley (3-5).
Pitcher Travis Wood hit one on Thursday in a win over the White Sox. It also gave them grand slams in consecutive games at Wrigley Field for the first time since Jim Hickman and Burt Hooton did it Sept. 15-16, 1972, against the Mets.
"I think confidence has a lot to do with it," Hairston said. "The weather's getting warmer and the wind's blowing out. It makes you feel better as a hitter."
Garza (1-0), who was also making his first home start of the season, bounced back from his previous start, when he gave up four runs in four innings last Sunday in Cincinnati.
In his third start of the season since coming off the disabled list with a strained back muscle, Garza pitched seven innings and allowed two runs and six hits while striking out four for his first victory since July 15 of last season.
"I'm pumped to get it out of the way. Yeah, it's huge," Garza said. "But just glad I kept this thing rolling."
Things didn't go nearly as well for Miley and the Diamondbacks.
Soriano gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the first with a two-run home run. On a 1-1 pitch, Soriano hit a high drive that was helped by the wind blowing out. The homer was Soriano's 378th of his career, tying him with Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams for 66th all time.
The Cubs then scored five runs in the third on Hairston's grand slam and Ransom's solo homer to cap the inning, which equaled their fourth inning against Texas on May 6 as Chicago's biggest of the year.
One year after winning 16 games and finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting, Miley continued to struggle, going seven innings and allowing seven runs and seven hits. He's lost four straight decisions and has given up 22 earned runs over his past four starts.
"Pretty frustrated. But you gotta take those four innings, I feel like that's more me. I gotta move on from there," Miley said. "Throw the other stuff behind me, quit thinking, get the mental stuff out of my head and just go pitch, you know, compete."
Miley's tough start was the second in a row for Arizona, which has lost four straight on the road. On Thursday, Brandon McCarthy lasted 2 2-3 innings and allowed nine hits and six runs in a 9-5 loss to the Rangers.
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson wasn't focusing on how Miley helped save a taxed bullpen, just the seven early runs.
"Well, we're not here to save our bullpen, we're here to win games," Gibson said. "He didn't throw the ball very good, made some mistakes."
The Cubs capitalized. Combining the offense with the effective starting pitching and a defense that helped Garza, including a catch by Hairston against the ivy on a Paul Goldschmidt drive in the first, Chicago had another easy win.
"It was a great team effort today, through and through," Hairston said.
NOTES: Soriano's home run was his 18th in his 145th career at-bat against Arizona. ... Garza went 0 for 3 at the plate to keeping Cubs pitchers at 19 RBIs in May, the most by a pitching staff during one month in NL history. ... The announced attendance of 24,645 was the smallest of the season at Wrigley Field. ... The umpiring crew at Wrigley Field also worked Thursday's Royals-Cardinals game in St. Louis that ended at 3:14 a.m. Friday. ... Before Friday's game the Diamondbacks placed 3B Eric Chavez on the 15-day disabled list with a strained oblique he suffered Thursday at Texas. Arizona also activated utility man Willie Bloomquist from the DL after missing two months with an oblique strain. ... Saturday's pitching matchup is the Diamondbacks' Ian Kennedy (2-3, 4.70) against the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija (3-6, 2.85).