After leading off the first two games of the Crosstown Classic with home runs, Soriano will try to make it three in a row and spark the Chicago Cubs (34-39) past the light-hitting Chicago White Sox (29-41) on Sunday.
Soriano began the Cubs’ 2-1 win over the White Sox on Saturday with his 14th homer, tying Aramis Ramirez for the team lead. The Cubs didn’t score again until the ninth, when Ryan Theriot fouled off the first pitch from closer Bobby Jenks before laying down a suicide squeeze bunt that scored pinch runner Angel Pagan.
“Once I swung at the first one that might have thrown (Jenks) off a little bit,” said Theriot, a late replacement at third base for the ailing Mark DeRosa.
The Cubs have won the last three matchups at U.S. Cellular Field, but haven’t swept a three-game set there since interleague play began in 1997.
Soriano, who hit a career high 46 homers last season for Washington, also went deep off Mark Buehrle to lead off the Cubs’ 5-1 victory in Friday’s series opener. Saturday’s homer was Soriano’s fifth this season and 37th of his career leading off a game.
Soriano has two hits in four at-bats - both homers - off White Sox starter Jose Contreras (5-7, 4.81 ERA), who earned his first win in nearly a month his last time out despite struggling.
On Monday against Florida, Contreras allowed five runs and eight hits with three walks in 6 2-3 innings of a 10-6 victory. The right-hander had been 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA and got only 10 runs of support in four starts after beating Oakland on May 21.
“My fastball is not there yet,” Contreras told the White Sox’s official Web site through a translator. “I just have to work through it. I feel healthy, and that’s the good thing. My arm doesn’t hurt.”
Contreras didn’t face the Cubs last month at Wrigley Field, and is 1-1 with a 4.79 ERA in three career starts against them.
Sean Marshall (3-2, 2.84) will try to win his fourth consecutive decision for the Cubs. After losing his first two starts following his recall from Triple-A Iowa on May 22, the left-hander is 3-0 with a 2.92 ERA.
Marshall’s bid to win a fourth straight start failed Tuesday. He was reached for four runs and five hits - three homers - in just four-plus innings of the Cubs’ 5-4 victory over Texas.
“It was a good win even though I didn’t pitch the way I would like to pitch,” Marshall told the Cubs’ Web site. “I couldn’t settle down, I couldn’t get into a good groove. I couldn’t make the pitches I needed to when I needed to.”
Marshall lost in his only appearance against the White Sox, giving up four runs and eight hits in a 6-2 defeat June 30. Marshall has never pitched at U.S. Cellular Field.
Podsednik had been out since April 15 with a pulled adductor muscle, but started in left field Saturday despite rainy conditions that delayed the start of the game. He singled, stole second and scored from third on Jim Thome’s groundout in the first.
Erstad was activated Friday, but re-injured his left ankle while making a diving catch and left after one-half inning.
Saturday’s loss was the fourth in a row and 21st in 26 games for the White Sox, who managed only six hits and are batting a major league-worst .234.
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