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Giants-Cubs Preview

As focused as the Chicago Cubs have been during a meaningful week of baseball, they haven't forgotten to enjoy themselves.

The surging Cubs can continue the fun by completing a four-game sweep of the visiting San Francisco Giants on Sunday.

After splitting a rain-shortened two-game road set against NL wild card-leader Pittsburgh, Chicago (61-48) is in position to sweep a home series of least three games from San Francisco for the first time since May 1994, and first four-gamer over the Giants there since June 1977. Kris Bryant homered and had three RBIs and fellow rookie Addison Russell recorded three hits as the Cubs moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the reigning World Series champs for the second wild-card spot with Saturday's 8-6 victory.

The Cubs, who were 49-65 at this time last season, have won nine of the last 10 and are 13 games over .500 for the first time since finishing 97-64 in 2008. They've averaged 6.0 runs while batting .308 against the Pirates and Giants (59-51) this week.

"We're just rolling with it, having a lot of fun," said Bryant, who is batting .316 in his last six games after going 0 for 13 in his previous five.

Chicago's rookie foursome of Bryant, Russell, Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler have batted a combined .419 and drove in 14 of its 20 runs in this series.

''We have a lot of confidence,'' Bryant said.

The Cubs look to stay hot behind Jake Arrieta (12-6, 2.50 ERA), who is 6-1 with a 1.37 ERA in his last nine starts. Despite walking three for a fourth straight outing, the right-hander allowed two hits in seven innings of Tuesday's 5-0 victory over the Pirates.

"He's an interesting pitcher," Chicago manager Joe Maddon said. "I will say it again, he's not there yet. He's still learning how to utilize all his weapons. There's another level of Arrieta.''

That might not bode well for the Giants even though they scored four runs and recorded seven hits off Arrieta in six innings of a 4-0 victory over Chicago last season.

San Francisco is 3-6 on a 10-game trip but has won the last four starts by Jake Peavy (2-4, 3.77). The right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in those games, and yielded one run over 12 innings in the last two.

"Certainly I expect to make a difference and expect to win on my day,'' Peavy said after he gave up that run and struck out eight in six innings while not factoring in the decision of Tuesday's 8-3 win at Atlanta. ''We've done that the four times out of the (All-Star) break and I am extremely excited about that.''

He's 8-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 16 starts against the Cubs, and has won three of his last four at Wrigley Field. Peavy hopes to continue that success and break the current trend set by Giants starters, who have a 9.75 ERA while failing to complete five innings in this series.

''They're having a tough time getting us deep in the game,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ''But we've got another tough game facing a tough pitcher and we've got to come out here ready to go and put these behind us. We've got no way to look at it but move on, focus forward and keep pushing.''

Chris Coghlan is 3 for 7 in the last two games, and 4 for 10 against Peavy.

San Francisco's Brandon Belt has homered twice in the series for his only hits in 19 at-bats over the last five games. Brandon Crawford has four RBIs in the set, and is batting .349 in 15 games at Wrigley.

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