Nats Face Zambrano
After going on an offensive tear during a season-high six-game winning streak, the Chicago Cubs have gone quiet at the plate their last two games.
The Cubs try to avoid losing three straight for the first time this season Saturday, when they continue a three-game series with the Washington Nationals.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Chicago -162 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago -162 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Following a 4-2 loss to Colorado on Thursday, Chicago fell 5-3 to the Nationals on Friday after Wil Nieves hit a two-run, ninth-inning home, sending the Cubs (15-8) to back-to-back losses for only the third time.
Before those losses, the Cubs had outscored opponents 51-17 during their win streak. They had eight hits Friday, but were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"We had every chance in the world to win it," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, whose team had just four hits on Thursday. "We just didn't do it."
Ryan Theriot, Aramis Ramirez and Matt Murton each had an RBI. Derrek Lee, who is batting .357 with seven homers and 18 RBIs, has gone 1-for-8 in the two losses.
While Chicago looks to avoid losing three straight for the first time this season, Washington is looking to win three straight for the first time since it opened the season 3-0. After that start, the Nationals (8-16) lost nine in a row and 15 of 17.
Nieves' home run on Friday was the first of his career. He was called up from Triple-A Columbus because Paul Lo Duca is on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right hand and is currently Johnny Estrada's backup.
"I was just trying to hit the ball the other way," Nieves said. "When it went out, it was a great feeling. I felt like I was running out on the clouds."
Nieves is 2-for-2 against Carlos Zambrano (3-1, 2.67 ERA), who takes the mound Saturday for Chicago looking to win his third straight start. He allowed just one run and five hits in seven innings against the New York Mets on Monday, striking out four in the 7-1 victory.
Zambrano's only loss came in his only road start. He gave up five runs and nine hits in six innings at Philadelphia on April 11.
The right-hander is 5-2 with a 3.42 ERA in eight career starts and two relief appearances against the Nationals. He's won his last three starts against them, posting a 2.18 ERA.
Matt Chico (0-4, 6.04) counters for Washington, looking to bounce back after one of his worst starts of the season. The left-hander allowed a season-high six runs and eight hits in four innings on Monday in a 7-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"I didn't have any command of any of my pitches," Chico told the Nationals' official Web site. "If I did, it was right over the middle."
He has lost his last four starts after failing to receive a decision in his first outing - Washington's 11-6 win over Philadelphia on March 31.
Chico won his only career start versus the Cubs, scattering four hits and striking out four in seven innings of a 6-0 victory last season.