Tue Jul 23 3:49am ET
A pair of four-time All-Stars pitching their best ball of the season clash Tuesday night when the Chicago Cubs visit the San Francisco Giants in a duel of hot clubs.
The Giants made it nine wins in their last 10 games and went over .500 for the first time this season with a 5-4 victory Monday in the opener of the three-game series.
Every win so far on the Giants' 4-1 homestand has been by one run.
San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner (5-7, 3.65 ERA) will seek to extend a five-start unbeaten streak when he faces the Cubs' Yu Darvish (3-4, 4.46), who takes a 12-inning scoreless streak since the All-Star break into the contest.
While his name has been floated daily in trade rumors, Bumgarner has gone 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA in his past five starts, striking out 34 in 29 innings.
He has dominated the Cubs in his career, going 9-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 13 starts, and this time he faces a Chicago team that has struggled of late against left-handed pitching.
"We've been terrible," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said recently of his offense's woes against lefties. "If you look at the overarching, overall numbers, they're not good, and we have to be better at that."
The Cubs didn't help their numbers against lefties on Monday, getting mowed down for two innings by recently demoted Drew Pomeranz, who struck out four of the six batters he faced after being sent to the bullpen. Chicago is hitting .242 against lefties, which ranked 13th among the 15 National League teams.
The Giants are so flush with lefties, they sent one to the minors on Monday even though he had pitched effectively in his major league debut a day earlier.
Expecting a tight series and having seen his bullpen carry a heavier-than-usual load in a four-game set against the New York Mets that featured three extra-inning affairs, Giants manager Bruce Bochy thought his staff would benefit more from having righty reliever Sam Coonrod available, rather than a guy who wouldn't be ready in this series, Sunday starter Conner Menez.
"It wasn't a case of him doing anything wrong," Bochy told reporters Monday of Menez. "He threw a very nice ballgame. But we still need some help in the 'pen. We've been using those guys so much. This gives us another arm."
The Giants won a battle of bullpens in the series opener, outscoring the Cubs 3-1 in the final four innings after the San Francisco relief corps took over with the visitors holding a lead.
Having been involved in a pitchers' duel with Noah Syndergaard in his last start, Bumgarner gets another tough opponent in Darvish, who has shut out each of his past two opponents for six innings apiece.
In wins over Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, Darvish allowed just four total hits and one walk while striking out 15.
The 32-year-old has faced the Giants just once in his career, and that went well. He threw a 4-1 win for the Los Angeles Dodgers in San Francisco in September 2017, blanking the Giants on three hits over seven innings.
--Field Level Media
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