Cubs-Diamondbacks Preview

Following another big offensive performance in Arizona from Anthony Rizzo, the Chicago Cubs can win their first road series against the Diamondbacks in five seasons Sunday.

After blowing a two-run, ninth-inning lead in Friday's 5-4, 13-inning defeat, Chicago (24-18) tied the game with two runs in the eighth and went ahead on Rizzo's three-run homer in the ninth to win 9-6 a night later. Rizzo, who nearly missed a grand slam but settled for a bases-clearing double in the fifth, matched a career high with six RBIs to help the Cubs snap a six-game losing streak to Arizona (20-22).

"You've got to love the fight within the group, man," manager Joe Maddon said. "I'm really proud of our boys.''

Winners in nine of 12, the Cubs are 3-2 on a six-game trip and have a chance to win their first series at Chase Field since 2010.

"They are a good team and they kept playing and good things happened for them," said Arizona manager Chip Hale, whose team had won five in a row.

Chicago's leader with a .322 average and nine homers, Rizzo is hitting .381 (8 for 21) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in the last five games at Chase Field.

''Yeah, I've been grinding," said Rizzo, who was 2 for 16 in the first four games of the trip. "It comes with the territory of the season. Just keep battling, keep going through the at-bats and the pitches, not try to do too much.''

With a hit Saturday, teammate Kris Bryant is batting .349 with four homers and 13 RBIs during a 12-game hitting streak.

The Cubs will hand the ball to Jason Hammel (3-1, 2.70 ERA), who owns the lowest ERA among Chicago starters and is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA over his last five outings. The right-hander didn't factor in the decision for a second straight start Tuesday at San Diego, but gave up two unearned runs, three hits and struck out eight without a walk while being victimized by three Cubs' errors in the 4-3 loss.

"Jason Hammel could not have pitched better than he did," Maddon said. "It's impossible. He was outstanding. He kept getting better. He kept making pitches.''

Hammel allowed only a solo homer to Tuffy Gosewisch and three other hits over seven innings of a 9-2 win over the Diamondbacks on April 22 of last year. This will be his first start at Arizona since July 23, 2011, when he set career highs by allowing eight runs and 12 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 12-3 loss for Colorado.

A.J. Pollock, who has never faced Hammel, is 11 for 20 in the last five games.

"Just clicking, I don't know what's going on," Pollock, batting .400 in eight career home games versus Chicago, told MLB's official website.

"It's just baseball, you feel like you've got something, you're not getting hits, then you do the same thing and you're getting hits. It's just how the game is."

Teammate Jeremy Hellickson (1-3, 5.52) is 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA in four home starts this season but hopes for a second straight solid outing overall after he allowed a two-run homer and three other hits in six innings before leaving without a decision in Tuesday's 4-2 win at Miami.

Chris Coghlan is the only Cub to face the right-hander, going 2 for 5 with a triple and a home run.


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