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White Sox Put Nine-Game Winning Streak On Line Against Cubs

(Sports Network) - It has been over 34 years since the White Sox last won 10 straight games. All they have to do Friday to match that run is claim a victory over the last team to beat them.

Jake Peavy will look to build off his first shutout in nearly five years this afternoon when the Pale Hose play host to their Windy City neighbors, the Cubs, in the opener of a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field.

Interleague play has helped the White Sox shoot up the American League Central standings. Their current nine-game winning streak, the club's first of that length since June 15-24, 2006, has them just 2 1/2 games back of the first- place Twins and has improved the White Sox record this year versus the NL to 13-2.

The White Sox have also won 13 of their last 14 games, with the lone loss in that span coming to the Cubs on June 13 in the finale of a three-game set at Wrigley Field. That loss snapped the White Sox's five-game winning streak against the Cubs.

The Pale Hose, though, swept Pittsburgh, Washington and Atlanta each in three games after that set with the Cubs, finishing off the Braves with Thursday's 2-0 victory to put themselves into position to win 10 straight for the first time since May 18-26, 1976.

Paul Konerko made his team a winner when he blasted a two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning to break a scoreless game, while starter Gavin Floyd threw seven innings of two-hit ball in a no-decision.

"It came out of nowhere, we weren't playing great baseball all year. We started playing well against Detroit [from June 8-10] and I think the Cubs series kicked us into gear and we've been off and running since then," Konerko said. "It's not going to last forever, but you just try and ride it out."

The White Sox, who have also won each of their last five home games overall and have bested the Cubs in five of the last six meetings at U.S. Cellular Field, have a collective 2.28 earned run average over their winning streak and Peavy has been a big part of that.

The 2007 NL Cy Young Award winner has won two straight and three of his last four starts, including a three-hit shutout of the Nationals on Saturday. Peavy walked two and struck out seven, retiring 20 straight at one point in his first shutout since Aug. 23, 2005 while with the Padres.

"It doesn't work out often where you get to throw a complete game. And then when you throw a complete game and give up no runs, it just doesn't happen very often in today's world," Peavy said. "Things just worked out today."

The 29-year-old righty kept Washington off the board despite having his start pushed back two days due to a sore right shoulder and improved to 6-5 with a 5.07 ERA. Peavy, though, has a 1.57 ERA over his last three starts and he beat the Cubs on June 11 with seven innings of two-run ball. That improved him to 4-2 lifetime against the Cubs with a 2.72 ERA in nine starts.

The Cubs have lost five of nine since their victory over the White Sox and they narrowly avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the Mariners with Thursday's 3-2 victory in 13 innings.

Marlon Byrd plated the go-ahead run with a single off Seattle reliever Sean White for just the Cubs' fourth run in the series.

Ted Lilly, who threw eight innings of one-hit ball in a victory over the Floyd and the White Sox on June 13, held the Mariners to a run over six innings.

Carlos Zambrano did not face the White Sox at home in mid-June and is 2-2 with a 3.63 ERA in four starts since being reinserted back into the rotation.

The right-hander bested the Angels his last time out on Sunday, hurling a season-high-tying seven innings of one-run ball. He also struck out seven in the 12-1 triumph that improved him to 3-5 with a 5.10 ERA in 21 games this year, eight of those starts.

"He had better velocity," Piniella said of Zambrano on the Cubs' website. "He had good movement. He used his breaking ball a lot more than the last three games. He used enough split-fingers. The breaking ball came more into play than it had in prior games. He becomes a three-pitch pitcher and can get you out as opposed to [just] throwing fastballs."

In 13 career meetings with the White Sox, 11 of those starts, Zambrano is 5-3 with a 4.56 ERA.

Zambrano may have third baseman Aramis Ramirez backing him up in the field today. Ramirez has been on the disabled list since June 9 due to a left thumb contusion and is batting just .168 in 47 games this year with five homers, 22 RBI and 45 strikeouts.