Two teams that are feeling the heat from a charging St. Louis team square off Saturday as the Chicago Cubs visit the Arizona Diamondbacks for the middle contest of their three-game set. Chicago posted an 8-3 victory in Friday’s series opener to avoid a three-game slide and maintain a one-game lead in the National League Central over the Cardinals, who have won seven in a row.
Kris Bryant led the Cubs’ 11-hit attack by going 3-for-3, extending his hitting streak to eight games in the process. St. Louis also is closing in on Arizona, which has dropped three straight and seen its advantage of the Cardinals for the NL’s second wild-card spot shrink to 4 1/2 games. Paul Goldschmidt hopes to continue his assault on Chicago pitching on Saturday as he has belted four home runs in his last two games against the Cubs. The slugger has registered 12 of his team-leading 91 RBIs over his last eight contests and is nine away from reaching the century mark for the third time in his career.
TV: 8:10 p.m. ET, MLB Network, WGN (Chicago), FSN Arizona
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs LH Jon Lester (8-6, 3.97 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks LH Patrick Corbin (8-11, 4.76)
Lester extended his unbeaten streak to five starts on Sunday, when he allowed three runs and six hits over 6 2/3 innings against Washington in his second straight no-decision. The 33-year-old native of Washington has not lost on the road since May 28 at the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 4-0 in his last five turns away from home. Lester has yet to be defeated by Arizona as he is 2-0 despite sporting a 4.94 ERA in five career starts, including a no-decision on Aug. 1 in which he yielded three runs over four frames.
After winning his final two starts of July, Corbin has dropped both of his outings this month, surrendering 14 runs - 10 earned - and 17 hits over nine innings. Both setbacks came on the road, where the 28-year-old New Yorker is 2-8 with a 6.79 ERA in 11 turns this season. Corbin has made five career appearances (four starts) against the Cubs and won his first three decisions before being tagged for eight runs and 10 hits - three homers - in three frames opposite Lester at Chicago on Aug. 1.
1. The Cubs recalled Victor Caratini from Triple-A Iowa after placing fellow C Willson Contreras (hamstring), who is expected to miss at least four weeks, on the 10-day disabled list.
2. Arizona traded RHP Ryan Burr, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 draft, to the Chicago White Sox for future considerations.
3. Cubs C Alex Avila has launched a two-run homer in two of his last three games.
PREDICTION: Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 3