The crosstown rivals face off for the start of their three-game series at Wrigley Field on Friday.
The White Sox (20-17) are 8-3 over their last 11 games, and took two of three from the New York Yankees. The teams split a doubleheader on Wednesday before Chicago closed out the set with a 4-1 win on Thursday to win its fourth consecutive series.
Jermaine Dye, who entered the series batting just .203, had all four RBIs on Thursday. With the White Sox batting just .222 collectively, he is just one of many struggling hitters.
“Sooner or later offensively we’re going to come out of it,” Dye said. “We’ve got too many good players in this clubhouse to not do that.”
The pitching has done its best to compensate for the lack of hitting. The starters are 6-2 with a 2.61 ERA in their last 11 starts, all of which lasted at least six innings.
The Chicago Cubs (18-21) haven’t had the same luxury. During the team’s current 3-7 stretch, the starters haven’t made it out of the sixth inning on four occasions and when they do, it hasn’t always been to good results. The Cubs have blown four saves in their last 10 games, and the bullpen has a 6.83 ERA during that stretch.
Two of the blown saves came during their recent four-game series with the New York Mets.
The Cubs dropped the final two games of that series, including Thursday’s 6-5 loss, after splitting the first two. Ryan Dempster earned the loss after failing to protect a 5-1 lead in the ninth. Scott Eyre was charged with the blown save after inheriting a 5-3 lead from Dempster with the bases loaded.
“I just lost the game. There’s not much to say,” said Dempster, whose five runs allowed matched his total from his first 16 appearances. “It’s tough for the other guys to clean up my garbage.”
Lilly spent most of his career in the AL, pitching with the New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays before coming to the Cubs. The left-hander is 4-2 with a 6.64 ERA in eight starts against the White Sox.
The White Sox will counter with Mark Buehrle (2-1, 3.61 ), who is making his fourth attempt for his 100th career victory. The left-hander gave up four runs and seven hits against Kansas City last Saturday, but he did not receive a decision in the White Sox win.
Hall, who dislocated his right shoulder during a spring training game, has been on a rehab assignment after being placed on the disabled list on April 1.
The White Sox have a 29-25 advantage over the Cubs since interleague play began in 1997, and they are 13-14 at Wrigley Field. They have won four of the last six games play there the last two seasons.
“I enjoy playing the Cubs, no doubt about it,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, reiterating that he’s no fan of Wrigley Field except for the field itself and the excitement it creates. “I love to play there as soon as the national anthem starts. It’s great, it’s awesome.”
This will be Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s first time experiencing the rivalry.
“The fans are probably ready for it in Chicago,” Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site. “There’s a lot of excitement, bragging rights.”