Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano are showing signs that they're emerging from lengthy slumps. The Chicago Cubs are hoping right-hander Edwin Jackson can start heading in the right direction with a matchup against the Seattle Mariners .
Jackson will try to earn his fourth victory in as many starts versus Seattle and help the Cubs win their series at Safeco Field on Sunday.
Castro was batting .131 (11 for 84) in his first 21 games this month, but is 6 for 19 in his past four and hit his first home run since April 30 in a 5-3 victory in 11 innings Saturday. Soriano had a two-run homer in the 11th and finished 3 for 5 with three RBIs.
Soriano is 7 for 18 in his last four games after batting .125 (6 for 48) in his previous 12. He's homered in each of the first two games in the series and is 7 for 12 in his three starts as a designated hitter this season.
"My swing is there now," Soriano said. "My hand is quick. I feel young. My hand is part of my swing. If my hand is quick, I have a lot of things to do to help the team."
The Cubs (34-45) have homered in a season-high nine straight games and Soriano's longball Saturday helped the team recover after Kevin Gregg blew his first save in 13 chances. Chicago's bullpen is 17 for 33 in save opportunities this season and blown an opportunity in each of the first two games of this series.
Jackson (3-10, 5.84 ERA) has also yet to shake his inconsistency this season but will face a team he's dominated in the past. The right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA, his best against any opponent, against Seattle (35-46).
The most recent of those matchups was April 18, 2009, and Jackson enters this game 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his last two starts after going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his previous two. He gave up six runs over 4 2-3 innings in Tuesday's 9-3 loss in Milwaukee.
"We've got to get more consistency," manager Dale Sveum told the team's website. "I think he knows the formula. His good games have been the conviction and the velocity and try to overpower people, and not finesse anything up there."
Even if he can find an improved form, Jackson might still have to outduel a resurgent Jeremy Bonderman (1-1, 3.30). The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his last four starts but hasn't gotten enough support to earn a victory in any of his last three outings.
Despite not having a feel for his curveball, Bonderman gave up two runs in 5 1-3 innings last Sunday against Oakland before the Mariners scored three times in the 10th for a 6-3 victory.
"I threw one good (curveball) and four or five bad ones, basically lived with the fastball all day. You just have to battle through some starts and try to find a way to keep your team in the game," he told the team's website.
Bonderman has never pitched against the Cubs but six of their players have faced him. David DeJesus has the most experience, going 10 for 35 (.286), while Soriano is 3 for 10 with no extra-base hits and Scott Hairston is 3 for 4.
Endy Chavez has performed best against Jackson among current Mariners players, going 4 for 7 with a pair of doubles.
|June 15, 2013||David DeJesus||15-Day DL||Right shoulder sprain|
|June 14, 2013||David DeJesus||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right shoulder|
|June 12, 2013||Zach Putnam||60-Day DL||Right elbow soreness|
|June 11, 2013||Zach Putnam||Day-to-Day||Left game - Undisclosed injury|
|May 27, 2013||Kyuji Fujikawa||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|May 27, 2013||Rafael Dolis||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|June 21, 2013||Michael Morse||15-Day DL||Strained right quad|
|June 18, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Sore right quad|
|June 08, 2013||Kendrys Morales||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
SEATTLE (AP) -- It didn't matter the Chicago Cubs nearly blew a six-run lead against the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
As far as starting pitcher Edwin Jackson is concerned, the only important part was that the Cubs hung on for a 7-6 victory.
"An ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day," Jackson said. "We were fortunate enough that we had a lot of runs so when they did come back and score there we were still winning. That's the most important thing, when you come out of the inning that you're still winning, regardless of how they came back."
Chicago led 7-1 after four innings. The Mariners comeback started against Jackson (4-10), who pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three runs and seven hits and striking out six. But it really got going once the game was turned over to the Cubs' bullpen, which has blown 16 save chances this season and gave up three runs in the eighth against Seattle.
"It looked real easy for a while, but we all know that's why we play nine innings," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
It was jokingly suggested to Sveum the Cubs might prefer only playing seven innings to cut out the late-inning issues with the bullpen.
"No kidding," Sveum said, laughing. "If we go back to Little League days, we'd be OK."
The Cubs tied a season high by hitting six doubles, including two each by Alfonso Soriano and Darwin Barney . Anthony Rizzo drove in two runs for Chicago, which took two out of three in the series against Seattle.
Kevin Gregg pitched a hitless ninth for his 13th save, a day after blowing his first save chance of the season.
"I want to pitch every day," Gregg said. "Coming off a blown save yesterday, I want to get right back out there. I don't want to sit on it at all."
Seattle starter Jeremy Bonderman (1-2) was chased after giving up six runs - four earned - and six hits in 3 1-3 innings. It was his shortest start since going 2 1-3 innings on July 29, 2007 with Detroit.
The loss was the first for Bonderman since being called up June 2 and making his first major league appearance since 2010. That time out, he gave up seven runs in 4 2-3 innings, but since he had been on a roll, giving up a total of four runs in the four starts before Sunday.
Bonderman's trouble against the Cubs started in the second inning when the Cubs doubled four times, leading to three runs. Soriano and Rizzo led off the inning with doubles, and with one out Brian Bogusevic and Barney hit consecutive RBI doubles.
"Doubles are good. Runs are better," Barney said. "Once something good happens, good things start going through your mind, and that's the whole battle in this game."
In the fourth, Barney led off with another double and scored when Wellington Castillo's grounder to third went through Kyle Seager 's legs for a two-base error. Starlin Castro 's run-scoring single marked the end for Bonderman.
Reliever Blake Beavan gave up an RBI double to Soriano and another run on Rizzo's single as the Cubs took their 7-1 lead. That was the end of the offense for Chicago, which managed only one hit over the final five innings.
"At this level you can't ever assume," Barney said. "Once you start assuming, you start laying down a little bit. That's just not a luxury we have - or anyone has."
The Mariners' comeback got going in the fifth when Nick Franklin 's single drove in a run. Bay's leadoff homer in the seventh cut the lead to 7-3.
Raul Ibanez led off the eighth with his 19th homer of the season against reliever Shawn Camp . Kendrys Morales singled and Seager broke an 0-for-19 slump with a deep home run down the right-field line to bring the Mariners within a run before reliever Hector Rondon and Gregg shut down the rally.
"We had our opportunities, fought back and got close," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. "But that's not good enough."
NOTES: Cubs OF Ryan Sweeney will be placed on the disabled list after breaking a rib on his left side crashing into an outfield wall. Sweeney will be held out of baseball activities for four to six weeks. ... Seattle CF Dustin Ackley should be able to return "in a couple days" after spraining his right thumb Saturday, manager Eric Wedge said. "All things considered, could be a lot worse," Wedge said.