Rockies try to get back into win column versus Cubs

CHICAGO (AP) - Alfonso Soriano looks to continue his hot hitting as the Chicago Cubs enter a three-game set against the team with the most runs scored in the NL over the last month.

Soriano and the Cubs return home from a strong road trip to host the Colorado Rockies on Monday.

Chicago (35-39) was held to 10 runs in its three-game weekend series against the crosstown rival Chicago White Sox, but Cubs pitchers allowed only two runs in the team's first sweep on the South Side since interleague play began in 1997.

The Cubs capped the sweep with a 3-0 win in Sunday's finale - their fourth victory on their six-game trip. They haven't won four straight since a five-game win streak May 1-6.

Soriano batted .480 (12-for-25) with four home runs on the trip. He was the main contributor to the Cubs' limited offense against the White Sox, going 6-for-13 and homering in each game.

"I think (it's) the weather and I feel more comfortable with the team and the city here in Chicago, so I got my swing back and that's most important," said Soriano, who has 11 home runs in June after totaling four in April and May.

"What you're seeing here now is the player that he is," manager Lou Piniella said of Soriano. "He's swinging the bat and he's driving the ball. He's a catalyst out of that leadoff hole as we anticipated."

Soriano is hitting .345 with three homers in 11 career games against Colorado.

The Rockies (38-37) lead the NL with 154 runs since May 25. They also led the majors with a 20-7 record between May 22 and June 21, but that surge hit a snag in Toronto, where the Rockies were swept in a three-game series against the Blue Jays this weekend.

It was the first time the Rockies have been swept this year, and their first three-game losing streak since May 30-June 1. Colorado hasn't lost four in a row since going winless on a six-game trip Aug. 18-24 of last season.

The Rockies managed only one hit - in the ninth inning - in losing 5-0 in Sunday's series finale.

Colorado looks to bounce back behind left-hander Jeff Francis (7-5, 3.44 ERA), who has led the Rockies to wins in seven of his last nine starts. Francis is 6-1 with a 1.86 ERA in that stretch after opening the season 1-4 with a 6.19 ERA.

He held the New York Yankees to one run and five hits while striking out nine in seven innings on Wednesday in a 6-1 victory.

"I had more fun tonight than I think I ever had pitching," he said.

Francis, though, has struggled against the Cubs, posting a 9.19 ERA in three career starts against them.

Jason Marquis (5-4, 3.38) will take the mound for Chicago, looking for his first win in more than six weeks. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 5.36 ERA in eight starts since he won five straight starts April 16-May 9.

On Wednesday, Marquis gave up six runs in five innings and was charged with the loss as Chicago fell to Texas 7-3.

He is 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA in nine career games - seven starts - against the Rockies.

The Cubs lost four of six meetings with the Rockies last season, including two of three at Wrigley Field. Since Aug. 20, 2005, Chicago has dropped six of eight games in the series.

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