for this game

White Sox-Cubs Preview

Jun 15, 2009 - 10:32 PM By MATT BECKER STATS Senior Writer

Chicago (30-34) at Chicago (30-30), 8:05 p.m. EDT

The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox were leading their divisions when they met for the first time last season, prompting talk of a Windy City World Series.

No such buzz will surround the crosstown rivals as they meet for the first time this year.

In the midst of disappointing seasons, the Cubs and White Sox look to build off dramatic victories when they open a three-game series Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs (30-30) won their second straight NL Central title in 2008, but a sputtering lineup has them chasing three teams in the division this year. After leading the league in runs (855) and on-base percentage (.354) last season, the Cubs are near the bottom of the NL this year with 253 runs and a .324 OBP. That led to the firing of hitting coach Gerald Perry on Sunday.

The White Sox (30-34) haven't been much better offensively.

The defending AL Central champions, trailing first-place Detroit by 4 1/2 games, are tied with Oakland for the third-fewest runs in the AL with 264. They have the league's second-worst batting average at .251.

"It might be the battle of who's the worst in town," Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said of the upcoming series.

The White Sox may be on the verge of turning things around, though.

A.J. Pierzynski singled with two outs in the ninth inning at Milwaukee on Sunday to lift the Sox to a 5-4 win - their third in four games after dropping eight of 10.

The Cubs are coming off an exciting finish of their own.

In Sunday's 3-2 win over Minnesota, Ryan Theriot drove in Derrek Lee with a bases-loaded single in the ninth to snap a four-game skid.

"It was good to see our guys bunch together three hits in the ninth," manger Lou Piniella told the Cubs' official Web site. "Hopefully, these things are all harbingers of things to come.

"We look forward to playing our crosstown neighbors, we really do. I think the fans get into it a lot more than our respective teams. We're at .500, so we want to extricate ourselves from the .500 mark. It's a big series for both teams."

Since interleague play began in 1997, the crosstown series is tied at 33.

Last year, the Cubs won the three games at Wrigley, while the White Sox took the three on the South Side.

Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano (4-2, 3.39 ERA) takes the ball in the series opener looking to build on one of his strongest outings of the year.

Zambrano allowed one run and three hits in eight innings against Houston on Wednesday. The Astros went on to score in the ninth, handing the Cubs a 2-1 loss.

The right-hander has a 0.86 ERA in his last three starts but has gotten five runs of support, leaving him with a 1-0 record in that stretch.

Zambrano is 5-2 with a 4.28 ERA in nine starts versus the White Sox. He hasn't faced them since allowing one run and three hits in eight innings of a 5-1 win June 22, 2007.

The Sox counter with John Danks (4-5, 4.81), who's coming off his best performance in weeks.

Danks allowed two runs and struck out seven in a season-high 7 1-3 innings Wednesday, but lost 2-1 to Detroit. The left-hander had a 7.02 ERA over his previous eight starts, third-highest in the majors since April 28.

In his only start against the Cubs, Danks yielded one run and five hits in six innings of a 4-3 loss June 20 at Wrigley. He didn't get the decision.