Cubs-Diamondbacks Preview

The Associated Press

The Arizona Diamondbacks have rediscovered their offense after a recent slump, which may finally mean good news for Ian Kennedy.

The right-hander will look for some rare run support as he tries to guide the host Diamondbacks to a fourth win in five games Saturday night against the Chicago Cubs.

Arizona has scored 36 runs over its last four games after beating Chicago 6-1 in the series opener Friday, as Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer and Miguel Montero added a two-run triple.

The Diamondbacks (35-35) have won three of four after being shut out in three of their previous five contests. Justin Upton went 2 for 4 with an RBI double and is hitting .351 over his last nine.

Manager Kirk Gibson, though, lauded the bullpen for a solid performance after five relievers were called into action to replace scratched starter Joe Saunders.

"Nine innings of one-run ball, 10 strikeouts from our bullpen, that's a pretty impressive effort for our bullpen,'' Gibson said. "Add a couple of hits from the bullpen, it was quite a night for us.''

The recent offensive explosion should be a welcome sight for Kennedy, who hasn't received much help from Arizona's lineup lately.

Kennedy (5-7, 4.13 ERA) held the Los Angeles Angels to two runs in eight innings Sunday but still suffered a 2-0 loss. It marked the second straight start and the fifth time in his last eight that he hasn't received any run support.

He's received an average of 2.04 runs of support over his last nine outings. His 3.12 overall average is fourth-worst in the majors.

"They're trying as hard as they can," Kennedy told the team's official website. "They're plugging away, they're working as hard as they can."

Kennedy is 1-1 with a 5.91 ERA in three starts against the major league-worst Cubs (24-46), whose offensive woes continued Friday. Geovany Soto hit a long homer in the fourth to give Chicago the lead, accounting for only the team's third run in its last three games.

The Cubs, who have lost six of nine and rank 28th in runs scored, went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

"Same old story: We had our chances to get back in it or bust it open and couldn't get that big hit to do it,'' manager Dave Sveum said. "You take the lead and they come right back. We had our chances. You can't have bases loaded a couple of times and get nothing across. You aren't going to win many ballgames.''

They'll look to get back on track behind Paul Maholm, who hopes to end a personal slump.

Maholm (4-5, 4.88) won four straight starts with a 1.07 ERA from April 21-May 9, but he's 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA in his last seven. The left-hander gave up three runs in six innings Sunday against Boston.

The Cubs have dropped six of those seven outings, and he'll carry a 6.16 road ERA into Saturday's start.

Maholm is 0-2 with a 4.08 ERA in five career starts versus the Diamondbacks, last allowing one hit in six scoreless innings June 8, 2011, with Pittsburgh.

Chicago has lost two straight to Arizona after winning 10 of the previous 12.

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