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Heading South: Cubs hurting; Sox surging
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

The crosstown series resumes today at 3:05 p.m. on the South Side.

 

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Published: 6/27/2008 12:08 AM

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Funny how a few days can change things on the long and winding road that is a major-league baseball season.

The Cubs, just four days removed from their sweep of the White Sox, limp into today's series rematch with their crosstown rivals having lost two of three games at home to the Baltimore Orioles.

"We're all banged up," Cubs manager Lou Piniella said after Thursday's 11-4 beat down at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs won't have ace Carlos Zambrano again this weekend, Kosuke Fukudome is questionable with a calf problem and Scott Eyre left Thursday's loss with a strained groin muscle.

But don't expect the White Sox to feel sorry for the Cubs. They still are without Paul Konerko while Joe Crede returned for Thursday's 2-0 win over the Dodgers in Los Angeles after missing two games with a sore back as the Sox took two out of three at Chavez Ravine.

The scene shifts today to U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox can be expected to change their focus from weightlifting rats, bad bathrooms and everything else they hate about Wrigley Field to baseball.

"When I say stuff, I wish people would look around and see what I say, when I say it and why I say it and start thinking about it a little bit before they start making comments about what I say," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen told reporters on Thursday, reiterating he said nothing negative about the Cubs, only their ballpark.

Follow the leaders

Both teams are still in first place, although the White Sox' lead in the AL Central is down to a half-game over the streaking Minnesota Twins.

The Cubs remained 4 ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals despite their bad series with Baltimore.

Thome time

White Sox DH Jim Thome saw only pinch-hitting duty at Wrigley Field because Guillen was afraid to play him at first for fear of injury.

It's American League rules this weekend, which means Thome at DH for a Sox team that missed his bat last weekend.

Tough act to follow

Aramis Ramirez was the MVP of the first series with 4 home runs in the three games. He hit 2 in the series opener on Friday, including a walk-off in the ninth inning.

Ramirez said after his walk-off that people like to say it's just another series when the Cubs and Sox play, but it's not.

On a roll

The Cubs have won four straight at U.S. Cellular Field and eight of the last nine games played in the series.

The Cubs swept the three games on the South Side last season, outscoring the Sox 10-2. Maybe it's because they don't have to go as far from their dugout to use the bathroom.

Right at home

Despite being swept last year, the Sox have won seven of the 10 series played at the Cell. The Sox are 24-11 at home and swept Pittsburgh in their last series there.

The matchups

It's Ryan Dempster vs. Jose Contreras in today's opener. Dempster beat the Sox 7-1 on Sunday for his ninth victory while Contreras hasn't pitched since the Cubs chased him with a 9-run fourth inning last Saturday.

Javier Vazquez opposes Sean Gallagher on Saturday. Vazquez lost to Dempster on Sunday while Gallagher didn't pitch in the first series.

Mark Buehrle starts for the Sox on Sunday after not appearing in series at Wrigley. Buehrle is 3-4 vs. Cubs through the years. Sean Marshall makes his second start for the Cubs in place of the injured Zambrano.

Feel the love

The Cell might be the only park in the majors where A.J. Pierzynski isn't treated as Public Enemy No. 1. Pierzynski had his moments last weekend with a home run on Friday, but he was awfully quiet by his standards. If the Sox are looking for more emotion for this series, it might be time for Pierzynski to stir the pot.

Speaking of emotion

Piniella was asked after Thursday's blowout if an emotional series against the Sox was what the Cubs needed.

"Emotion to me is good pitching, good hitting and solid defense. I call that emotion," Piniella said. "If you want the other kind of emotion you can go to a rock concert. Or to church."