All-Star candidate Marcus Stroman hopes to follow a Chicago Cubs loss with a win for the third consecutive time when he and his teammates open a three-game road series Friday night against the San Francisco Giants.
Meeting for the first time this season, the Cubs and Giants both are coming off road-series sweeps, with Chicago having dropped three straight to the Los Angeles Angels while San Francisco won three against the Colorado Rockies.
Stroman (6-4, 2.39 ERA) ended a four-game Cubs skid two starts ago when he threw a one-hit shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 29. The right-hander followed that with six innings, allowing just one unearned run, last Sunday in a 7-1 victory over the San Diego Padres that followed his team's 6-0 defeat the night before.
The Cubs haven't won since Stroman's outing on Sunday, dropping four straight games.
Stroman has seen his ERA fall from 3.24 to 2.39 over his last four starts, all wins, during which he's given up just three earned runs in 29 innings.
He has faced the Giants four times in his career, going 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA. The 32-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA in three starts at Oracle Park after throwing six shutout innings in a 4-2 win at San Francisco last July.
Energized by the eighth-best ERA in the majors, Stroman will have to deal with a Giants team that continued its mastery of the Rockies over the past three days, following a 10-4 win Tuesday with 5-4 and 6-4 come-from-behind efforts on Wednesday and Thursday.
San Francisco has beaten Colorado 11 times in a row.
Pinch hitters were the key to late rallies the past two days. One day after three pinch-hitters in a four-batter span came through with hits in a three-run seventh, Brandon Crawford delivered a game-tying double off the bench in a three-run ninth that produced Thursday's win.
After having been replaced by a pinch hitter during Wednesday's key sequence, Crawford found himself in the role a day later. It's just the way things are these days on a deep team, he said.
"I think it shows that we never give up," Crawford said after the game.
The Giants haven't lost since Sunday, the last time right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (4-5, 3.97) took the mound. He has alternated losses and wins in his past three starts, the most recent of which was an 8-3 home loss Sunday to the Orioles in which Baltimore scored six times in the third inning.
The 33-year-old has made 13 career starts against the Cubs, going 5-3 with a 3.84 ERA.
One familiar face DeSclafani won't see will be Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger, who was sent to the club's Arizona complex to continue rehabbing a bruised left knee suffered on May 19. Chicago hopes to have the former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder back by the end of next week.
"Body feels good," Cubs manager David Ross reported Thursday about Bellinger. "He got on the bases, felt really good. We'll try to get him to slide a little bit there -- just some little things that are kind of the finishing touches to get him ready."
--Field Level Media