With rookie Nick Masset set to make his first major league start, the White Sox look to avoid being swept by the Cubs for the first time in nearly three years as the teams conclude a three-game interleague series Sunday.
Derrek Lee, who missed the five previous games with neck spasms, capped off a six-run eighth inning with a pinch-hit grand slam to lead another Cubs (20-21) comeback, sending the White Sox (20-19) to an 11-6 loss.
In the series opener, the Cubs rallied for a 6-3 victory, using a passed ball to score the go-ahead run in a two-out, three-run seventh-inning rally.
Trying to avoid being swept by the Cubs for the first time since July 2-4, 2004, Guillen has changed his mind and won’t start veteran Jose Contreras on three days’ rest. Instead, Masset (1-1, 6.61 ERA), who has made 11 relief appearances, will get the ball.
“It’s my job to be on the mound and keep my team in the ballgame,” Masset told the White Sox’s Web site. “I look forward to that. I’ll do my best and take it one pitch at a time.”
Even though Lee came through Saturday, it’s uncertain if the Cubs’ slugger will return to the starting lineup Sunday. Lee, who leads the majors with a .390 batting average, may be relegated to pinch-hitting duty again.
Before Saturday’s game, Cubs manager Lou Piniella said Lee would probably not play until next week.
Alfonso Soriano went 1-for-4 on Saturday for the Cubs and is batting just .143 (4-for-28) in his last seven games.
“You’ve got to be patient,” Piniella told the Cubs’ official Web site. “They’ve done it in the past, and they’ll do it again.”
Carlos Zambrano (4-3, 5.13 ERA), coming off perhaps his best start of the season, will close out the series for the Cubs. The right-hander allowed one run and six hits in eight innings to beat the New York Mets 10-1 on Tuesday night, saying it was the best he has felt all season.
Zambrano is 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA in his last four starts. He is 4-1 with a 4.31 ERA in seven starts and two relief appearances against the White Sox.
White Sox third baseman Joe Crede has been particularly bad against Zambrano, batting .056 (1-for-18) lifetime. Crede, though, had a productive game Saturday, hitting a two-run homer to tie the game at 5 in the sixth. He also had a single after missing Friday’s game when a batting practice grounder took an unexpected hop and hit him in the mouth.
Paul Konerko hit his sixth home run Saturday, and 13th against the Cubs to snap a 2-for-25 slump (.080).
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