The White Sox pitching staff looks to shut down the Cubs for the second straight game when their three-game interleague series continues on Saturday.
The White Sox (27-14) are tied with the Detroit Tigers for both the AL Central lead and the best record in the majors.
White Sox starting pitchers have the second-most wins in the league (22), picking up where they left off last postseason, when the rotation posted a 2.84 ERA and earned nine wins en route to a World Series title.
Mark Buehrle pitched his first complete game of the season in the White Sox’ 6-1 win on Friday, as the struggling Cubs (17-24) matched a season-low with just two hits.
Jim Thome hit his AL-leading 17th home run on a solo shot in the fifth inning for the game’s final run.
“It’s something that I will always look at and check it off as one of the special moments in my career,” said Thome, whose 47 career interleague homers are the most all-time. “It really makes you appreciate the tradition and the whole Sox-Cubs rivalry.
“Just coming to the ballpark, you had that sense very similar to a playoff game. Any time you get two teams like this in the same city and have passionate fans that root for both sides, you are going to have that sort of feeling. We definitely felt it as players.”
Paul Konerko went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBIs on Friday, and is batting .324 (24-for-74) with seven doubles, five homers and 19 RBIs in 21 career games against the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.
White Sox starter Freddy Garcia (6-1, 4.56 ERA) looks to win his seventh straight decision Saturday, as well as continue his dominance of the Cubs.
Garcia won both of his starts against the Cubs last season, allowing one earned run and eight hits in 14 innings. He is 3-0 with a 0.82 ERA and a .167 opponent batting average lifetime against Chicago’s North Side team.
The right-hander pitched 6 2-3 innings, giving up three runs and seven hits in the White Sox’ 7-3 win over Minnesota on Monday.
The Cubs have lost 16 of their last 19 games, and have scored just 26 runs in those 16 losses—including 10 games with two runs or fewer.
The Cubs are batting an NL-low .247 overall this season, and are hitting just .214 in their last 15 losses.
“I think we’ve got to keep swinging the bats and something has got to break,” Todd Walker said. “I can’t speak for anybody else, but I don’t lose faith.”
Walker is batting just .213 (13-for-61) in 18 games in May, but is 5-for-14 (.357) in his career against Garcia.
Cubs left-hander Rich Hill (0-3, 7.63) will make his first interleague start in search of his first major league win.
Hill allowed three runs, four hits and a career-high five walks in the Cubs’ 9-0 loss to San Diego on Sunday. The Cubs are 1-6 in games the left-hander has started in the last two seasons, and he has never pitched more than six innings in an outing.
The White Sox lead the all-time series 26-23, and are 15-10 against the Cubs at U.S. Cellular Field.
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