Marlins-Cubs Preview

The Associated Press

Although he took his share of lumps and tough luck in August, the Chicago Cubs' Travis Wood wrapped up the month with one of his most impressive outings of the season.

Facing the lowest-scoring offense in baseball might help him open September in similar fashion.

Wood looks to guide the Cubs to three straight home wins for the first time in almost two months Monday when they open a three-game series against the Miami Marlins.

Brian Bogusevic had two hits and Welington Castillo had two RBIs as Chicago (58-78) defeated Philadelphia 7-1 Sunday to take the final two games in a three-game set. The last-place Cubs, who won their first home series since July 5-7, are 7-19 at Wrigley Field since last winning three in a row there July 6-9.

They'll attempt to match that streak behind Wood (8-10, 3.09 ERA), who avoided a winless August by outpitching Clayton Kershaw on Tuesday.

After going 0-3 with a 5.16 ERA while receiving three total runs of support in his first five August starts, the All-Star ended the month by giving up an unearned run and five hits over seven innings in a 3-2 win at Dodger Stadium.

"He matched (Kershaw) pitch for pitch and actually outdid him,'' Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "That was as good a stuff as he's had in a long time.''

Wood now hopes to end his struggles at Wrigley, where he's 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .283 in his last five starts - all Chicago losses.

Although the left-hander is 1-2 with a 10.93 ERA in three career starts versus the Marlins, he yielded two runs and three hits over six innings in a 3-2 win at Miami on April 27.

Anthony Rizzo led the way offensively in that series, going 5 for 13 with two home runs and five RBIs to help the Cubs take three of four. They've won five of the last six meetings overall following a six-game losing streak to the Marlins.

NL-worst Miami (50-85) had been averaging 2.0 runs during a six-game losing streak before breaking out with its highest run total since Aug. 16 with a 7-0 victory at Atlanta on Sunday.

Giancarlo Stanton is day to day after injuring his right ankle Sunday. If he's unable to play, it may add to the Marlins' offensive struggles since he's hitting .400 with five homers and 11 RBIs over a nine-game hitting streak versus the Cubs.

The Marlins, who still rank last in the majors with 431 runs - 82 fewer than the next-closest team - seek consecutive wins for the first time since Aug. 18-19 by giving the ball to Henderson Alvarez (2-3, 3.90).

Since winning back-to-back outings in late July, Alvarez is 0-2 with a 5.74 ERA while receiving nine runs of support in his last five starts. He allowed one run and three hits over 1 2-3 innings before having his outing cut short by rain in a 4-3 loss at Washington on Wednesday.

He's never faced the Cubs, though Ryan Sweeney is 5 for 12 with four doubles lifetime in this matchup. Sweeney went 1 for 3 with an RBI Sunday after missing 56 games with a fractured rib.

Teammate Starlin Castro is hitting .333 with four multihit games in his last seven overall.

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