Taking the mound two days after being traded to the Cardinals, Jackson tries to help his new club to a fifth consecutive win over the lowly Chicago Cubs on Friday night at Busch Stadium.
Jackson was traded twice Wednesday, going from the Chicago White Sox to Toronto then to St. Louis (55-50) as part of an eight-player deal. Set to replace Kyle McClellan(notes) in the rotation, Jackson has a chance to contribute right away for a club that is 1 1/2 games behind first-place Milwaukee in NL Central.
“I love it,” said Jackson, who will pitch for his sixth team since 2005. “This is really exciting. It’s great at this point in the season to have something to play for. Every game is meaningful.”
The right-hander was 7-7 with a 3.92 ERA in 19 starts for the White Sox, allowing two runs over 15 innings while winning his last two. Jackson surrendered those runs in six innings of a 4-2 win at Cleveland on Sunday.
He’s gone 1-2 with a 7.77 ERA in four starts against the Cubs, but picked up that victory July 1 after giving up four runs in six innings of a 6-4 win at Wrigley Field.
Jackson looks to make a good first impression and help the Cardinals avoid a third consecutive loss after back-to-back defeats against MLB-worst Houston.
Facing the Cubs (42-63) could help St. Louis get back on track. The Cardinals are 5-1 against their archrival in 2011, holding Chicago to seven runs while sweeping a three-game home series June 3-5.
Albert Pujols(notes), who had two hits Thursday to move within two of 2,000, is 12 for 24 with four of his 23 homers and nine RBIs versus Chicago this season. Teammate Lance Berkman(notes) has hit one of his NL-leading 27 home runs against the Cubs and hopes to return after missing the last two games with a shoulder strain.
Berkman and teammate Matt Holliday(notes) are a combined 4 for 26 (.154) with no homers and seven strikeouts against scheduled starter Matt Garza(notes) (4-7, 3.72 ERA), who hopes for a fourth consecutive solid start and some help in this contest.
Garza has allowed three runs while striking out 20 over 21 innings in his last three outings, but the Cubs’ bullpen blew a lead to cost him a win each time. The right-hander yielded two runs and fanned nine in seven innings of Chicago’s 5-4, 10-inning victory over Houston on Sunday.
“(Garza) has plenty to show for it,” manager Mike Quade said.
He allowed a run and struck out seven in five innings of an 11-4 win over St. Louis on May 11 - the Cubs’ only victory over the Cardinals this year.
Chicago was swept in a three-game set this week at Milwaukee, falling 4-2 on Thursday. The Cubs, who traded outfielder Kosuke Fukudome(notes) to Cleveland for two prospects earlier in the day, gave up nine runs but scored just four in the series.
Slugger Aramis Ramirez(notes) is 2 for 20 with a homer in his last five games, but is batting .358 with four home runs and 19 RBIs during a 27-game hitting streak versus St. Louis. One of his two hits in five at-bats versus Jackson left the park.