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Preview: Cubs at Cardinals

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The somewhat surprisingly dominant pitching staff that has helped the St. Louis Cardinals build the best record in baseball has been on display in the first three contests of a four-game series against the visiting Chicago Cubs, and the Cardinals will look to right-hander Lance Lynn to continue the momentum when the series wraps up Thursday. The Cardinals have won two of three after Jake Westbrook and two relievers combined for a two-hitter in Wednesday's 4-1 victory. Chicago has not scored an earned run since the first inning of Tuesday's second game of the series.

The Cardinals also boast one of the top offenses in the National League, though their bats have been somewhat quiet recently with two or fewer runs in four of their past eight games. St. Louis remains 2 1/2 games ahead of Cincinnati atop the National League Central and is 16 games clear of Chicago, which dropped into a tie for last place with Milwaukee after Wednesday's loss. The Cubs actually have a winning record outside the division, but they are 9-23 against NL Central opponents, the worst record in the majors within the division.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), Fox Sports Midwest (St. Louis)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Scott Feldman (6-5, 3.05 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Lance Lynn (9-1, 3.56)

With a couple of exceptions, Feldman has been extremely effective in his first season with the Cubs. He recorded his eighth quality start in his last 10 outings last time out, beating the Mets by holding them to one run on two hits over seven innings. Feldman has never faced the Cardinals.

Lynn has not lost since May 7, a span of seven starts during which he has racked up four wins, but he has not been at his best in his last two outings. He was tagged for seven runs over five innings last time out at Miami but got enough offensive support to claim the win. Lynn was outdueled by Travis Wood when the faced the Cubs on May 7 at Wrigley Field, dropping to 4-1 against Chicago despite allowing only two runs over seven innings.

WALK-OFFS

1. Cardinals C Yadier Molina, who leads the majors with a .365 batting average, is 10-for-19 against the Cubs this season. He hit a tiebreaking two-run homer Wednesday.

2. Chicago is 17-for-95 with runners in scoring position over its past 13 games, going 5-8 during that stretch.

3. Cubs RHP Kevin Gregg (10-for-10) and Cardinals RHP Edward Mujica (21-for-21) are among three primary closers in the majors without a blown save, along with Oakland's Grant Balfour (17-for-17).

PREDICTION: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130620/preview-cubs-at-cardinals