Cubs-Cardinals Preview


The St. Louis Cardinals broke out of their slump in record-setting fashion.

Given the way Chicago Cubs scheduled starter Travis Wood pitched in his last outing, the Cardinals could be poised for another big game as they go for the sweep Sunday at Busch Stadium.

After averaging 2.7 runs in its first seven games following the All-Star break, St. Louis (49-45) appeared to be on its way to another low-scoring affair Saturday, tied in a scoreless game with the Cubs through six innings. The offense finally - and suddenly - came to life, tying a 76-year-old major league record with seven doubles in the seventh inning while scoring 12 times in a 12-0 win.

The Cardinals, who remained five games back of NL Central-leading Cincinnati, totaled 10 hits in the seventh and also matched an 86-year-old franchise record for runs in an inning.

"It's nice to see the guys, too, just keep putting good at-bats together no matter how many runs we've had or how many hits they've had already," manager Mike Matheny said.

David Freese has been putting together plenty of good at-bats lately. He had two of the Cardinals' nine doubles and is batting .563 with a homer and four RBIs in his last five games.

He'll look to keep his surge going against Wood (4-4, 3.92 ERA) and help St. Louis improve to 13-4 at home against the Cubs (38-55) since the start of last season.

After recording a 1.01 ERA in winning his final four starts before the break, Wood was knocked around for a career high-tying eight runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings in Tuesday's 9-5 loss to Miami. He served up two homers - including a grand slam to Carlos Lee - after surrendering two in his previous seven starts combined.

"Everything just kind of hit the fan,'' said the left-hander, who didn't use the 11-day layoff between starts because of the break as an excuse.

Wood fared well in three starts against the Cardinals while with Cincinnati, going 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA. Freese, however, is 2 for 3 with a double against Wood, while Lance Berkman is 5 for 8 with a homer and double in their matchups.

St. Louis counters with Lance Lynn (11-4, 3.27), who looks as if he's starting to regain the early season dominance that helped make him an All-Star. He has a 0.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 13 innings in two starts this month after posting a 9.98 ERA in his final three June outings.

Against Milwaukee on Monday, he gave up a run, six hits and no walks while striking out 10 in seven innings in the Cardinals' 3-2 comeback win.

Lynn hasn't faced the Cubs since making two starts 11 days apart in April - part of his sensational start. The right-hander, who had a 1.40 ERA in winning his first six starts, gave up one run in each of his two outings versus Chicago.

The Cubs have managed one run and 11 hits in the first two games of this series after arriving in town winners of six of seven.

Rookie Anthony Rizzo has singled in each of the games, but hasn't had an extra-base hit since July 7 and has one RBI since the break. The Cubs are 7-0 when he drives in a run.