With a big win on Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Cubs picked up their first road series win in nearly two months – evidenced by a disappointing 14-19 mark away from the Friendly Confines this season.
Chicago (34-34) returns home to take on a Padres ballclub that swept the reigning World Series champions at Petco Park in late May. San Diego (28-42) is largely a non-factor in the National League West – a division dominated by the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks.
This brief homestand breaks up a lengthy stretch away from Wrigley. And, given their struggles, Chicago needs a strong performance this week. In the opener, Jon Lester hopes to get things off on the right foot.
Lester (4-4, 3.89) enters Monday coming off a seven inning, one-run performance against the Mets. That win, the 150th of his big-league career, marked his longest outing since May 23. In his career, the lefty owns a 2.96 ERA in four starts against San Diego.
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Opposite Lester, the Padres counter with a southpaw familiar to the Cubs in Clayton Richard. The veteran narrowly missed a complete game shutout his last time out. The 33-year-old owns a 4.19 earned run average in the month of June, so he’s far from infallible.
Rizzo stays hot
In five games in the leadoff spot, Anthony Rizzo is yet to record an out to lead off a game. He homered twice, walked, doubled and singled. He also tied a career-high Sunday, extending his hitting streak to a dozen games.
But in those five games, Chicago is just 3-2. Other pieces, namely Willson Contreras, have heated up, as well – lending hope to a struggling Cubs’ offense.
Chicago (34-34) and San Diego (28-42) open a brief three-game series Monday night at Wrigley Field.
Jon Lester takes the ball for the Cubs. Clayton Richard opposes him for the Friars. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. CT from the North Side.