Cubs-White Sox Preview

The Associated Press

A season after being swept by the Cubs in their crosstown Chicago series, the White Sox can now flip the script.

They'll get the chance to complete a four-game sweep in front of their own fans Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field while also trying to extend their season-best winning streak to five.

After Wednesday's 8-3 win, the White Sox (18-17) have allowed eight earned runs and held opponents to a .160 batting average in their last five games.

The bullpen has been especially strong, stringing together 20 1-3 scoreless innings and yielding no hits in its last seven innings. Over the last 11 games, White Sox relievers have a 0.48 ERA and .131 opponents' average.

They got plenty of support Wednesday as second baseman Gordon Beckham homered for a second straight game and first baseman Jose Abreu went 3 for 5 with two doubles, upping his total for extra-base hits to an MLB-best 24. Beckham is 6 for 16 in the series and a career .348 hitter against the Cubs.

"It's a good attack," veteran Paul Konerko said. "I mean we feel like one through nine we can score runs at any moment."

The Cubs (11-21), conversely, have their hitting to blame for a four-game losing streak. After being held to four hits in Wednesday's loss, they're batting .142 in their last five. They've managed 12 hits and five runs in the series.

"I think we still have to put ourselves back in the situation where we continue to get better at grinding out at-bats," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "Putting balls in play with some impact in hitters' counts, which are things that we talk about. Things that are being addressed on a daily basis."

The good news for the Cubs is White Sox ace Chris Sale is still on the disabled list. The bad news is that one of the replacements in a depleted White Sox rotation, Scott Carroll, has filled in admirably.

Carroll (1-1, 0.68 ERA) took the loss in Saturday's 2-0 defeat at Cleveland, though it was little fault of his own. The 29-year-old rookie allowed two unearned runs on five hits in six innings as his teammates made a pair of costly errors.

"I knew it was a validation start for me," Carroll said. "It's just something I needed to prove myself again. Obviously I don't know how long I'm going to be up here but I'm going to continue to show what I'm capable of doing."

In two career starts, he's allowed one earned run in 13 1-3 innings.

"He knows how to pitch," manager Robin Ventura said. "Sometimes guys don't throw 95 (mph), but somehow it just seems to jump on them. He's done great. It's been impressive to see him come in here and take a shot at it, grab a hold of it."

The Cubs are hoping Jake Arrieta (0-0, 0.00 ERA) can do the same after a promising season debut. The right-hander allowed four hits and issued two walks in 5 1-3 innings in Saturday's 3-0 victory over St. Louis, though he didn't earn a win after missing time with shoulder tightness.

"I thought he maintained his strength throughout," Renteria told the team's official website. "Coming back from such an extended recovery, we were going to make sure we took care of him."

Arrieta is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA in three starts against the White Sox, though they all came with Baltimore.

White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday but didn't play. Designated hitter Adam Dunn has been out of the lineup the past two days due to a bruised right calf.

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