Cubs-Diamondbacks Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 21, 2012
The Chicago Cubs have yet to win a road series outside their own city. A visit to the Arizona Diamondbacks doesn't offer a promising chance to end that drought. The Diamondbacks will try to add to their recent success at Chase Field during Friday night's opener of a three-game series. Chicago (24-45) managed to win its first road series of the season earlier this week, taking the first two games of their series on the South Side versus the White Sox before losing 7-0 in Wednesday's finale. "You just always try to win series back to back and keep winning series, especially when you haven't won a lot," manager Dale Sveum told the team's website. "If you keep winning series, you can gradually get back into this thing in some kind of fashion anyway." Sveum's club might have a difficult task in its next attempt to earn more road wins as the Diamondbacks (34-35) have won nine of 11 at home. They produced a combined 30 runs and 41 hits while taking two of three over visiting Seattle earlier this week and ended that set by winning a 14-10 slugfest. Ryan Roberts' inside-the-park homer was one of a team record-tying six for Arizona. Justin Upton's three-run shot was his first home run since May 23 and sixth this season after hitting a career-high 31 in 2011. "We need him to be that guy," manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's capable of being that guy. If he can turn it around, it'll certainly help where we're headed." Upton and the Diamondbacks will try to keep things going against Jeff Samardzija (5-5, 4.04 ERA), who will seek to avoid dropping a career-worst third consecutive start. The right-hander matched a personal high by giving up eight runs over 3 2-3 innings in Minnesota on June 9 but had a better outing Saturday against Boston. He gave up three runs and four hits over 5 1-3 innings but did not get any run support in a 4-3 defeat. His counterpart in Friday's game, Joe Saunders (4-5, 3.44), is also hoping to get some more support after suffering a tough-luck defeat to his former team, the Los Angeles Angels, on Saturday. The left-hander gave up two runs over six innings for the second straight outing in that 2-0 loss. "Joe pitched a great game for us, battled his tail off, and really only made one mistake (a two-run homer to Mark Trumbo)," Gibson said. While Samardzija is making his first start against Arizona, Saunders is 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in his two against the Cubs. He gave up two runs and five hits over six innings during a 4-1 loss at Wrigley Field on April 4, 2011. Alfonso Soriano, who hit three homers in a four-game series last year in Arizona, is batting .382 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs over his last 16 games against the Diamondbacks. The 12 home runs are his most versus any team over the last four seasons. Miguel Montero hit .346 with two home runs in the seven games against the Cubs last season. Roberts also hit a pair of homers in the season series and is batting .353 over his last five matchups.
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