The Chicago White Sox had a great chance to pull off a sweep of the Chicago Cubs two weekends ago at Wrigley Field, but blew a golden opportunity in the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss.
They certainly didn't let the disappointment linger.The White Sox have been baseball's hottest team since dropping that memorable finale at Wrigley, and can win a 10th straight game for the first time in 34 years Friday afternoon as they welcome the Cubs to the South Side.Down 1-0 in the ninth inning against the Cubs on June 13, the White Sox's four-game winning streak ended when they failed to get runners home from second and third with no outs.The White Sox (37-34), 7 1/2 games out of first in the AL Central after that loss, are still working on the streak they started two days later. Ozzie Guillen's club has outscored its opponents 42-22 while winning nine straight, and pulled within 2 1/2 games of division-leading Minnesota after a 2-0 win over Atlanta on Thursday."A few weeks ago ... there's no easy way to say it, but it just wasn't very fun around here," said first baseman Paul Konerko, who hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning. "We've got smiles on our faces now."Konerko is batting .410 with 22 RBIs in his last 21 games. Chicago -- which hasn't won 10 straight since May 18-26, 1976 -- is 21-9 when he drives in a run."Looking back right now, (the Cubs series) kind of kicked us into gear a little bit," Konerko told the White Sox's official website. "Sometimes there is a letdown after the (cross-town) series. ... It was nice because that letdown didn't happen. We've been rolling since then."Guillen's starters are 11-1 with a 2.06 ERA over the last 14 games. Probable Friday starter Jake Peavy (6-5, 5.07 ERA) delivered the finest outing of that stretch, a three-hitter in Saturday's 1-0 win at Washington."Pitching is contagious," said the former NL Cy Young Award winner, who threw his first complete game in a White Sox uniform. "When you watch one guy go out there and do well, you want to follow it up."It was the third straight quality start for Peavy, who gave up two runs over seven innings in a 10-5 win against the Cubs on June 11. He has, however, experienced some recent soreness in his pitching shoulder, and underwent a few hours of treatment on Tuesday.Seeking to win back-to-back games for only the second time this month, the Cubs (32-40) may be a bit fatigued. Marlon Byrd's 13th-inning RBI Thursday in Seattle helped them win 3-2 and avoid a sweep."I'm hoping we're going to put together a run," Byrd said. "Actually, I'm not hoping. I know we're going to put together a run before the All-Star break."After using six relievers Thursday, the Cubs would love a lengthy outing from Carlos Zambrano (3-5, 5.10). The right-hander is coming off his best start since returning from the bullpen to the rotation, allowing a run over seven innings while striking out seven Sunday in a 12-1 rout of the Angels."He had better velocity," manager Lou Piniella told the Cubs' official website. "He used his breaking ball a lot more than the last three games."Zambrano, 5-3 with a 4.56 lifetime ERA versus the White Sox, will certainly want to pitch carefully to Konerko. Four of the first baseman's eight career hits against Zambrano are homers.The Cubs will welcome back third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who has been on the disabled list with a left thumb contusion. A career .341 hitter against the White Sox, Ramirez is batting a career-worst .168 in 2010.