Despite an inconsistent offense, the Arizona Diamondbacks continue to hold their ground atop the weak NL West. The Chicago Cubs’ recent struggles, meanwhile, are having an effect on their lead in the NL Central.
After combining for two runs and four hits in their series opener, the division leaders continue their three-game set Tuesday night at Chase Field.
Behind a strong performance from aging starter Randy Johnson, Arizona (49-50) beat Chicago 2-0 on Monday, limiting the NL’s top offense to two hits. The victory kept the Diamondbacks - who haven’t won two in a row since July 6-8 - tied with Los Angeles atop the West standings.
“It was nice to win a game like that,” said Johnson of the Diamondbacks, who have won five in a row at home over the Cubs, including two games during last season’s NL division series. “To kind of set the tone.”
Chicago (58-41), meanwhile, lost for the third time in four games and now holds a two-game lead over Milwaukee and St. Louis in the Central. The Cubs, who have four total runs in their last four defeats, held a 4 1/2-game lead at the All-Star break.
Monday was the fourth shutout suffered this season by Chicago, which has scored an NL-high 518 runs.
“I thought we hit the ball well,” said Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, who grounded into his major-league leading 20th double play with two on and nobody out in the ninth inning. “We just didn’t have anything to show for it.”
Third baseman Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Monday and is 0-for-17 in his last four games.
Petit, who allowed one run and two hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss to Milwaukee on July 2 in his previous start, has made eight appearances out of the bullpen this season. He is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two career starts versus Chicago.
The Cubs counter with Jason Marquis (6-5, 4.44), who looks to avoid his third straight losing decision. Marquis didn’t factor in the decision of his last start, allowing three hits in seven scoreless innings of a 3-1 win over San Francisco on July 11.
“He worked that sinker in and out, and the slider too,” San Francisco outfielder John Bowker said of Marquis. “When you’re hitting your spots like that, it’s tough to get a rally going.”
On Monday, rookie Alex Romero broke up Rich Harden’s no-hitter in the sixth inning with his first career homer and Stephen Drew added an RBI triple for Arizona, which won for the first time in club history when recording only two hits.
Drew is batting .410 (16-for-39) with five RBIs while hitting safely in his last eight contests.