The Chicago Cubs followed a lengthy rough stretch by stringing together some needed victories.
Now, the Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping to do the same.
After ending their longest losing streak of the season, the visiting Diamondbacks continue their four-game set against the Cubs on Friday.
Arizona beat Chicago 4-3 in Phoenix on May 13, then dropped six straight before winning 3-1 against the Cubs on Thursday.
Daulton Varsho’s solo homer highlighted a three-run fourth inning and five Diamondbacks pitchers yielded a total of four hits.
The Cubs have dropped two in a row after winning four straight and six of eight following a rut of 14 losses in 17 games.
Varsho is batting .308 (20-for-65) with three home runs and eight RBIs in his past 17 games. During a seven-game hitting streak against the Cubs, Varsho is 10-for-28 (.357) with three homers — all at Wrigley Field — and nine RBIs.
Arizona starting pitchers are 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four games this season versus Chicago, which is batting .169 as a team against them.
The Cubs’ Rafael Ortega and Patrick Wisdom each clubbed solo homers on Sunday off Arizona’s scheduled Friday starter, Humberto Castellanos (2-1, 4.15 ERA). Those were the only two runs that the right-hander yielded over 5 1/3 innings in the Diamondbacks’ 3-2 defeat. He gave up five hits and a walk while fanning five.
Castellanos has not completed six innings in any of his six starts this season. However, he’s 1-0 with a 2.76 ERA in three May starts.
“(Castellanos is) doing exactly what you want a fifth starter to do,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “You want him to be able to give you a chance to win a baseball game every fifth day.
“He’s been fantastic for us.”
Frank Schwindel went 1-for-2 vs. Castellanos last weekend and is batting .313 (10-for-32) with three doubles and five RBIs in his past eight contests.
Though Drew Smyly and Marcus Stroman allowed five combined earned runs over 9 1/3 innings in the Cubs’ last two games, Chicago’s starters have a 2.63 ERA over the past 10.
Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 4.03 ERA) will look for a third straight strong outing when he takes the ball Friday. The veteran right-hander allowed 10 runs over 10 combined innings against Milwaukee on April 29 and May 4 versus the Chicago White Sox.
Since then, Hendricks has yielded just one run over 14 1/3 innings of his past two outings. That lone run came over 5 2/3 innings while not factoring in the decision on Saturday in Chicago’s 4-2 victory at Arizona.
“We’re going to go as far as our starting rotation goes,” Cubs catcher Yan Gomes said. “You’re starting to see guys get in their rhythm and not fall apart as quickly as maybe we were.”
Hendricks is 4-2 with a 2.94 ERA in eight career starts against the Diamondbacks, including 1-1 with a 2.12 ERA in three outings at Wrigley Field.
Promising Arizona rookie Alek Thomas, a Chicago product, went 2-for-3 vs. Hendricks last weekend, and Varsho was 1-for-3 against him. Christian Walker is 4-for-10 against Hendricks for his career.
–Field Level Media