Cubs-Red Sox Preview
Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein probably wishes he could have made the trip to Boston to see his new team outplay his old one.
Backed by some strong pitching, Chicago is in position to sweep the Red Sox with a fourth consecutive road victory Wednesday night.
Family obligations kept the former Red Sox general manager from returning to Boston for the first time in his role with Chicago (36-46), but he should be pleased with the Cubs' play in the series.
One night after Jake Arrieta took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of a 2-0 victory, five pitchers held the Red Sox (38-46) to seven singles and a double in a 2-1 win Tuesday.
Luis Valbuena's sacrifice fly in the ninth broke the tie that led to Chicago's fourth win in six games and secured its third straight winning road series.
"It's a young team, and it's nice to come in here with this atmosphere," Anthony Rizzo told MLB's official website. "We know we can compete with everyone, and I think this is a big confidence builder for everyone on the team."
Boston, meanwhile, has scored two or fewer runs in seven straight games - four of which it lost.
"It gets a little frustrating at times, particularly with the number of opportunities we continue to create," manager John Farrell said. "And that's the thing that we have to continue to focus on internally, is that the opportunities are there and yet at times we're not cashing in."
Facing Boston for the first time, Travis Wood (7-6, 4.52 ERA) will try to win his third straight road start. The left-hander allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2-3 innings of an 11-5 loss at Milwaukee on May 30, but has yielded three runs over 14 2-3 innings in his next two away from home.
He gave up three hits in eight innings during a 3-0 win at Philadelphia in his most recent road start June 15. However, Wood is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two outings since then. He gave up three runs, seven hits and walked five in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-3 win over Washington on Thursday.
"Walks, in general, for me are disappointing," Wood, who has walked 39 in 16 games after allowing 66 in 32 starts last season, told MLB's official website.
Despite two straight losses, Boston has allowed three or fewer runs in a franchise-record 14 straight games at Fenway Park. The White Sox were the last AL team to accomplish such a feat in 15 consecutive home contests during the 1966 and 1967 seasons.
Brandon Workman (1-1, 3.27) allowed four runs, with three coming off two homers, in seven innings of a 6-0 loss at Yankee Stadium on Friday in his first outing after serving a six-game suspension for throwing near the head of Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria on May 30.
The right-hander is making his first appearance against the Cubs and first start during interleague play. He's posted a 10.13 ERA in three games against NL opponents.
Dustin Pedroia recorded his third three-hit game in his last four Tuesday. He's batting .333 (7 for 21) versus Chicago at Fenway.
Teammate Xander Bogaerts, however, is 0 for 17 with seven strikeouts in his last five games, and 2 for 42 in his last 11.
Chicago shortstop Starlin Castro is batting .444 (16 for 36) in his last nine road games.