Kerry Wood had a sore right Achilles’ tendon on Sunday. But it did not stop him from turning in his third straight dominant start.
After not earning a win in May, Wood was impressive in June, winning four of his six starts. In his last three outings, he is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA.
On Sunday, the 26-year-old right-hander limited the Chicago White Sox to two runs and four hits over eight innings in a 5-2 victory.
“I had a pretty good slider,” Wood said. “I kept throwing it and the guys kept swinging at it and chasing it.”
Losers of seven of nine, the Cubs could certainly use another stellar outing from Wood. The Cubs come in after dropping three of four in Philadelphia, including a 12-2 loss on Thursday.
“This is no time for fragile psyches,” manager Dusty Baker said. “It’s time to toughen up.”
The Cardinals hope they have broken out of their own mini-slump. After dropping three straight to the San Francisco Giants, Edgar Renteria, Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen all homered in the second inning Thursday to spark the Cardinals to a 9-5 win in the series finale.
St. Louis had scored just three runs in the series’ first three games.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with our offense, I think we just ran into some pretty good pitching,” Rolen said. “Today we took some good at-bats, got some good swings, got some balls to fall and got some big hits.”
STANDINGS: Cardinals - 1st place (tied), NL Central. Cubs - 3rd place, 1 GB, NL Central.
CARDINALS PROBABLE STARTER: Brett Tomko (4-5, 5.69 ERA). Tomko, who has pitched into the seventh inning in three straight starts, has won two straight decisions. On Sunday, he gave up four runs and seven hits over seven innings in a 13-6 win over the Kansas City Royals. The 30-year-old right-hander is 1-4 with a 4.46 ERA in seven career games against the Cubs.
CUBS PROBABLE STARTER: Wood (8-5, 2.90 ERA). Wood is 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 career games against the Cardinals.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Cardinals - SS Renteria is batting .154 (4-for-26) in his career against RHP Wood. … The Cardinals have scored at least eight runs in each of their last 16 wins and four runs or fewer in each of their last 17 losses. … 1B Tino Martinez is 6-for-13 during a four-game hitting streak. Cubs - RF Sammy Sosa needs one home run to tie Mel Ott for 16th on the all-time list with 511. … LF Moises Alou is 3-for-28 (.107) over his last seven games. … 2B Mark Grudzielanek is 8-for-17 (.471) in his career against RHP Tomko.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cardinals - 18-22 on the road; Cubs - 20-19 at home.
INJURIES: Cardinals - C Joe Girardi (back), 15-day DL; C Steve Torrealba (elbow), 15-day DL; INF Miguel Cairo (hand), 15-day DL; INF Fernando Vina (hamstring), 15-day DL; OF Eli Marrero (ankle), 15-day DL; RHP Russ Springer (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Kiko Calero (knee), 60-day DL; RHP Chris Carpenter (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Gene Stechschulte (shoulder), 60-day DL. Cubs - LHP Will Ohman (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Dave Veres (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Chiasson (elbow), 60-day DL.