While the Boston Red Sox are suddenly slumping, the Chicago Cubs find themselves amid one of their better stretches of a rather dismal season.
The Cubs try for a season-high fifth straight victory and series sweep of the visiting Red Sox on Sunday.
Boston won seven straight from June 19-26, but is 1-4 since -- with three of those losses coming by one or two runs. The Red Sox went 20-6 last month. But Boston started July with a 6-5 loss on Friday followed by a 3-1 defeat on Saturday in which it mustered just five hits.
The Red Sox last dropped three straight as part of a season-high five-game losing streak from May 4-8.
Meanwhile, Chicago, 14 games under .500, has outscored its opponents 32-16 in winning four in a row -- plus seven of 10 overall. Looking to complete their first series sweep of the season, the Cubs have also won a season-high four straight and six of eight at home.
"Winning. I don't think it is something that one day you just turn the switch on and say, 'Now it's time to win,' " Cubs shortstop Nico Hoerner told the club's official website. "Winning takes practice, and it takes a lot of people, and it takes daily work."
Hoerner has been a big reason for Chicago's recent success while recording at least two hits in seven of his last 10 contests. He's batting .514 (19-for-37) during that 10-game stretch.
Meanwhile, Chicago's bullpen has allowed one run while striking out 12 with three walks over 12 1/3 innings of this series.
After starter Alec Mills exited two batters into Saturday's game because of a lower-back issue, the Cubs will look for a longer outing from scheduled starter Keegan Thompson (7-3, 3.34 ERA) in this finale.
The right-hander didn't allow a run through five innings versus Cincinnati on Tuesday, then was charged with four over his final 1 1/3 during a 5-3 loss.
Thompson, who yielded only one run over 12 innings of his previous two starts, also gave up eight hits and struck out eight without a walk against the Reds.
The Red Sox are slated to give right-hander Connor Seabold (0-1, 13.50 ERA) a second straight start after he was roughed up in his 2022 debut earlier this week.
In his second major league start ever, Seabold allowed seven runs and nine hits, including three home runs, while striking out seven and walking one over 4 2/3 innings of the Red Sox's 7-2 loss at Toronto on Monday.
"He's a good one," Boston manager Alex Cora said of Seabold, despite the tough outing. "It just happened that it was the first one this year against a tough team.
"He's a guy we really like."
Boston's Alex Verdugo is batting .383 with just three strikeouts during a 12-game hitting streak. Teammate Jarren Duran, meanwhile, is 10-for-19 with three doubles and a homer in his last four contests.
Chicago's Patrick Wisdom, who recorded two hits Saturday, is batting .318 with 13 RBIs in his last 11 games.
--Field Level Media