Things have not gone well for the Chicago White Sox since they last met their city rival.
The White Sox (29-39) open a three-game interleague set on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field against the Chicago Cubs (32-39) in a matchup of struggling teams.
On May 18, the White Sox were three games over .500 and just 3 1/2 games behind AL Central-leading Cleveland. Since then, the White Sox have lost 22 of 31 and are 10 games under .500 for the first time since 2001.
Poor relief pitching has been the reason for the White Sox’s recent struggles. The bullpen has an 8.01 ERA over the last 31 games and allowed at least two runs in eight of their last 11 home games.
Closer Bobby Jenks helped seal the White Sox’s latest loss, a 5-4 defeat to Florida on Wednesday. He gave up a three-run homer in the eighth to pinch-hitter Jason Wood that gave the Marlins a 4-2 lead.
“We aren’t getting blown out, and that makes it tougher,” the White Sox’s Paul Konerko said. “We are playing all nine hard but coming up empty.”
Mark Buehrle (4-3, 3.45 ERA) has allowed only one run in winning each of his last two starts for the White Sox, and will try for his first three-start win streak in nearly a year.
The left-hander allowed a run and nine hits through eight innings of a 6-1 win in Pittsburgh on Saturday. He is a free agent at the end of the season, but downplayed rumors of any impending trade.
“I don’t know if I can get traded to that many places, as many rumors as I’ve heard,” Buehrle told the White Sox’s official Web site. “I hear them every other day. People text me saying, ‘I heard you are going there,’ or, ‘I heard you are going here.’”
Buehrle won three consecutive starts from June 15-27, 2006 before dropping five in row, a stretch that began when he was tagged for a career-high 11 runs in five innings of a 15-11 road loss to the Cubs on July 2.
Pitching at home, Buehrle tossed a two-hitter against the Cubs - a 6-1 win on May 19, 2006. He failed to record a decision in a 6-3 loss on May 18 and is 3-3 with a 5.43 ERA in eight career starts versus the Cubs.
They answer with their ace as Carlos Zambrano (7-6, 4.53) will make his first start since losing in his finest outing this season. The right-hander carried a no-hitter for 7 1-3 innings, but gave up Russell Branyan’s homer with one out in the top of the ninth in a 1-0 loss to the Padres on Saturday.
The mercurial Zambrano told the Cubs’ official Web site that he was disappointed in himself.
“The only thing that makes me mad is they should have to beat me with my best pitch, the fastball,” he said after the two-hitter. “I threw hard for nine innings, and I should’ve thrown a fastball. It was a good pitch, the changeup, but the guy is strong. What can I say?”
Zambrano has won his last four road starts, allowing just six runs in 29 1-3 innings for a 1.84 ERA. He’s not pitched well at U.S. Cellular Field, though, going 1-1 with a 6.16 ERA in three starts with 12 walks over 19 innings.
Overall, Zambrano is 4-2 with a 4.75 ERA in eight lifetime starts against the White Sox, but lost on May 20 when he gave up seven runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 10-6 defeat.
The Cubs took two of three at home from the White Sox during last month’s Crosstown Classic, and have won three of the last five meetings on the city’s South Side.
The Cubs lost for the third time in four games after dropping a 6-5 decision to Texas on Thursday. Reliever Bobby Howry gave up Frank Catalanotto’s walk-off single to the right field corner, scoring Kenny Lofton with the winning run.
Derrek Lee had three hits for the Cubs, who rallied from a 5-0 deficit. Lee, who has appealed a five-game suspension for fighting Padres pitcher Chris Young during Zambrano’s last start, is batting .529 (9-for-17) while recording four straight multihit games.
Lee is second in the NL with a .354 average.
Blog Coverage from SB Nation
- Colorado's Jimenez beats Dodgers for 19th win
- White Sox activate Sale from suspension for start vs Cubs
- Brewers' Braun sidelined with sore back
- Baez hits 2-run HR, Russell adds slam as Cubs rout White Sox
- Cole pitches 3-hitter, Pirates rout Mariners 10-1
- Cardinals snap Familia's saves streak, rally past Mets 5-4