St. Louis (79-74) at Chicago (69-84)

  • Game info: 1:05 pm EDT Sat Sep 25, 2010
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Chris Carpenter(notes) likely can’t help the St. Louis Cardinals reach the playoffs, but he certainly doesn’t want to lose a fourth consecutive start for the first time in eight years.

The Chicago Cubs have already accounted for one of Carpenter’s recent defeats, and they’ll try to beat him again as the NL Central rivals meet Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award last year, Carpenter (15-8, 3.28 ERA) has been stumbling down the stretch.

The fading Cardinals (79-74) have lost five of his last six starts, and the right-hander has posted a 7.79 ERA while dropping his last three. Carpenter hasn’t lost four straight starts since his last four appearances with Toronto in 2002.

He only made one costly mistake Monday against Florida, allowing a second-inning grand slam in a 4-0 defeat.

“He wasn’t perfect in that one inning and they get four runs,” manager Tony La Russa said. “That shouldn’t be enough to beat us.”

In his previous start, Carpenter carried a 2-1 lead into the seventh against the Cubs on Sept. 15, but he allowed four runs in the inning en route to a 7-3 loss.

The 2005 NL Cy Young winner is winless in three starts against Chicago since the All-Star break, going 0-2 with a 5.12 ERA. Before that, he was 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA versus the Cubs.

The Cardinals had lost five consecutive meetings with Chicago before Friday, when ace Adam Wainwright(notes) secured his first 20-win season with a 7-1 victory.

The win likely just delayed St. Louis’ elimination from the division race, with Cincinnati cruising toward the title. The Cubs and Cardinals combined for the previous eight division crowns.

While the Cubs (69-84) are 18-10 since interim manager Mike Quade took over, they’ve been outscored 20-1 while losing their last two.

“This isn’t the yellow brick road, I’m telling you right now,” Quade said. “This is going to be a tough task the next few days.”

Rookie Casey Coleman(notes) (2-2, 5.02) gets the start Saturday as Chicago continues to test out some younger players. The 23-year-old right-hander has posted a 4.15 ERA in his first six major league starts, pitching six innings to beat Florida 5-3 last Saturday.

“He’s made a wonderful impression on all of us,” Quade said. “He’s also a kid that will do anything we ask.”

Coleman pitched two hitless innings with three strikeouts in relief against the Cardinals on Aug. 13, although he did not face Albert Pujols(notes).

St. Louis’ star first baseman went 1 for 2 with three walks Friday as he chases a third consecutive NL MVP award. Four of his 41 home runs have come in seven games at Wrigley this year.

Matt Holliday(notes) has also enjoyed the NL’s oldest ballpark, going 12 for 31 (.387) there this season. He extended his hitting streak to 16 - the longest active streak in the majors - with a single Friday.

Aramis Ramirez(notes) provided the Cubs’ offense with a homer - his 14th along with 45 RBIs in 55 games since the All-Star break. Ramirez is 5 for 11 with two doubles and a homer against Carpenter this year.

It’s unclear if team hits leader Marlon Byrd(notes) will be available for Chicago. He left Friday’s game after fouling a pitch off his face.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Carpenter STL vs. C. Coleman SEA
16-9 Record 4-2
3.22 ERA 4.11
179 K 27
63 BB 25
1.18 WHIP 1.42


Saturday, Sep 25