Once owners of the worst road record in the majors, the Chicago Cubs have a chance to secure their longest win streak away from home in nearly four years Saturday.
The Cubs, though, will face red-hot Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who produced another scoreless effort against them last weekend.Chicago (38-46) was a big league-worst 12-25 in road games on June 14, but has since won seven of eight and five in a row. After producing 19 hits in a 16-9 win in Boston on Wednesday, the Cubs had another 14 in a 7-2 victory in Friday's opener in the nation's capital.Justin Ruggiano had three hits and homered for the second straight game. He also drove in two runs after recording a career-high five RBIs on Wednesday.Ruggiano is batting .444 with seven extra-base hits in his last seven games."Hitters go through this every now and then," he said. "You get hot, seeing the ball well. I've been doing some things mechanically to stay on top of what I want to do at the plate. It's good though, I don't want to lose it."Starlin Castro extended his road hitting streak to 11 games by going 2 for 5 with two RBIs. He is batting .435 with 11 RBIs during that streak and .472 in his last eight road games.The Cubs will seek their first six-game road win streak since an eight-game run Sept. 13-28, 2010, and a season high-tying fifth consecutive overall victory.However, they also have a streak of 21 straight scoreless innings against Gonzalez (5-4, 3.93 ERA). That span has stretched three starts, in which he's allowed 10 baserunners and struck out 22.His latest domination of Chicago came last Saturday, giving up two hits in seven innings of a 3-0 victory. It was his second straight game without allowing a run -- he went six innings in a 3-0 win at Milwaukee on June 23 -- and his third start since a month-long stint on the disabled list for inflammation in his throwing shoulder."From the last start to this start, it's just building confidence and velocity," Gonzalez told MLB's official website. "Today, it was good to see some high numbers in the velocity, and it shows that it's just building strength. Obviously coming from the DL and trying to work your way back, it's going to be a process."The Nationals (46-39) had a season-high, five-game win streak snapped Saturday.
Over the last month, Jeff Samardzija is throwing his splitter 16.1 percent of the time, which is five percentage points more than his average on the season. Since the beginning of 2012, Ian Desmond is hitting .083 against splitters, which is 126 points below the league average among qualified hitters over that span.