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While the Chicago Cubs begin the second half with an eye on the future, the Colorado Rockies look to get back into the playoff race when the teams begin a three-game series in Colorado on Friday. The Cubs are among the most motivated sellers with the non-waiver trade deadline approaching - despite winning six of nine heading into the break - and rumors abound regarding several of their biggest chips. The Rockies are 4 1/2 games behind Arizona in the National League West, but they haven't made up much ground lately and haven't won consecutive games since June 28-29.
Even as the Rockies sit on the cusp of the playoff race, owner Dick Monfort reportedly issued a letter to season-ticket holders saying the team won't surrender top prospects for rentals, so they seem determined to stand pat or settle for minor moves at the trading deadline. The Cubs, on the other hand, are shopping several veterans, including ace Matt Garza, relievers James Russell and Kevin Gregg, and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. The Rockies have claimed the season series from the Cubs the past four years, but Chicago took two of three in the first meeting this season.
TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), ROOT (Colorado)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jeff Samardzija (5-9, 4.06 ERA) vs. Rockies LH Jorge De La Rosa (9-5, 3.21)
Samardzija hopes to begin the second half the way he started the first - not the way he finished it. He is coming off his worst outing of the season, as he gave up nine runs and four home runs in 4 2/3 innings against the Angels. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in six games (two starts) against Colorado and will make his first start at Coors Field.
De La Rosa had a strong first half and closed it out with a win at San Diego, allowing two runs over five innings. Control problems have been an issue at times - he walked four last time out - but De La Rosa has allowed only two home runs over his last 13 starts. The 32-year-old lefty is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in eight games (four starts) against Chicago.
1. Colorado stars Carlos Gonzalez (2-for-9), Dexter Fowler (2-for-9) and Troy Tulowitzki (1-for-6) have struggled against Samardzija.
2. Cubs starters have combined for 57 quality starts, third-most in the NL, and the team is 35-22 in those games.
3. Cubs LF Alfonso Soriano leads the team in home runs (16) and stolen bases (10), the first Chicago player to lead the team in both categories at the All-Star break since Sammy Sosa in 1998.
PREDICTION: Rockies 5, Cubs 3