As good as the Chicago Cubs have been at home this season, it’s still been nearly seven years since they won more than five straight games at Wrigley Field.
That could change Friday when they go for their sixth consecutive home victory - and fifth straight overall - as they continue a four-game series against the struggling Colorado Rockies.
The Cubs (33-21) lead the majors with 23 home victories and their .742 winning percentage at Wrigley Field is among the best home percentages in baseball. That success is partly due to the Cubs’ offensive prowess at Wrigley, where they’re averaging 6.4 runs and batting .307.
Chicago has been especially effective at home lately, winning 12 of its last 14 games there, including five in a row. They haven’t had a longer win streak at the friendly confines since they won 13 in a row from May 19-June 17, 2001.
“We have a good team,” said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, who has hit 11 of his 13 home runs at Wrigley. “We expect to win. We’re just living up to our own expectations.”
Though the Cubs have been on a roll lately, it hasn’t been easy. They’ve trailed in the seventh inning or later of each of their last three wins - all at home. They fell behind 4-3 in the seventh inning on Thursday night before scoring two runs in the seventh and three in the eighth en route to an 8-4 victory.
“It was a good come-from-behind win,” said manager Lou Piniella, whose club took over sole possession of the best overall record in the majors. “They’re playing with confidence. If we get down we have that feeling we can come from behind and win a baseball game. It’s a good feeling.”
The Rockies (20-34), meanwhile, have fallen into a tie for the majors’ worst record with four straight losses.
“We know we haven’t played the way we know we can,” Thursday’s starter Jeff Francis said. “That’s disappointing to everyone in here.”
If there’s a Colorado pitcher that can end the team’s skid and Chicago’s run, it’s likely Aaron Cook (7-3, 2.82 ERA), who’s 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five career games against the Cubs. He’ll take the mound Friday for his first career appearance at Wrigley.
Cook, the only Rockies pitcher with more than two wins, bounced back from defeats in consecutive starts by pitching a 4-hitter in a 4-1 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday. It was the eighth quality start in 11 outings for the right-handed sinkerballer, who’s one win shy of his total from last season, when he made 25 starts.
Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, batting .400 (16-for-40) with three home runs and 11 RBIs in his last 10 games, is hitless in 10 career at-bats against Cook.
Chicago will counter with Ted Lilly (5-4, 5.23). The left-hander had won four straight starts before Sunday, when he gave up four runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings of Chicago’s 6-5, 11-inning loss at Pittsburgh.
Lilly is 2-1 in three career starts against the Rockies, despite his 6.59 ERA in those games.