Throughout their 10-game road losing streak, the Chicago Cubs have made nearly every starting pitcher they've faced look like a potential All-Star.
To avoid matching the longest single-season road losing streak in franchise history, they'll need to figure out a way to beat an actual All-Star, who also happens to be one of baseball's top pitchers over the past month.
On Monday, Ryan Vogelsong looks to lead the surging San Francisco Giants to their first four-game winning streak of the season and a four-game sweep of a Cubs team trying to elude matching an ugly record set almost 60 years ago.
The Giants (30-24) have managed eight runs in the first three games of this series, but that doubles Chicago's output. Each team had four hits Sunday, but San Francisco was also able to push a pair of runs across the plate for a 2-0 win. Angel Pagan scored in the fifth inning after doubling to set a Giants record by extending his home hitting streak to 27 games, and Gregor Blanco scored from first on Melky Cabrera's hit-and-run single in the eighth.
Pagan is batting .381 during an 11-game hitting streak, while Cabrera is batting .481 during a seven-game run.
The Giants have won three in a row for the sixth time this season, and 12 of 17 to move within three games of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers. Another victory Monday would give San Francisco its first four-game sweep of the Cubs since June 17-20, 1999, and send Chicago into unflattering territory. The Cubs (18-35), losers of 15 of 18 overall, would match the franchise's longest single-season road losing streak of 11, set June 18-29, 1954.
Manager Dale Sveum doesn't need to look far to see why his team is struggling so much away from Wrigley Field. Chicago's offense has been atrocious, totaling 12 runs in its last eight road games. Opposing starting pitchers have a 1.02 ERA in the Cubs' last nine contests away from home.
"It's a broken record,'' Sveum said. "I don't know what to say to come up with something different to make it.''
In this series, the Cubs have been set down by Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Barry Zito, who have permitted three runs over 24 1-3 innings. Tony Campana, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano combined to go 0 for 14 Sunday, and the Cubs' task may not get any easier in the finale against Vogelsong (3-2, 2.36 ERA).
Vogelsong has a 1.31 ERA in five starts at AT&T Park, and his 1.51 overall ERA since the start of May is second-best in baseball.
The right-hander allowed one run in seven innings against Arizona on Tuesday, while matching a season high with eight strikeouts. The Giants rallied for a 3-1 win, their fifth straight with Vogelsong on the mound.
Vogelsong went 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three starts against Chicago last season, with Castro going 3 for 9 and Soriano 4 for 8 with a homer.
While the Cubs' hitters could be in for a struggle Monday, the same could be true for the Giants against Jeff Samardzija (5-3, 3.09).
Samardzija has a 2.12 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 46 2-3 innings over his last seven starts, though a lack of run support has left him with a 3-2 record.
With the wind blowing out at Wrigley on Tuesday against San Diego, the right-hander yielded three runs while striking out eight in seven innings of a 5-3 victory.
Samardzija, in his first full season as a starter, has a 1.59 ERA in five career relief appearances against the Giants.