Cardinals-Cubs Preview

Because he’s pitching Sunday night, Adam Wainwright likely won’t

play in the All-Star game. That start, though, gives the St. Louis

Cardinals right-hander the chance to end the first half as the NL’s

only 13-game winner.

While seeking that victory and his first against the Chicago

Cubs in nearly three years, Wainwright will also try to help St.

Louis regain sole possession of the NL Central lead before the

break.

The Cardinals (56-36) changed their pitching schedule to give

Wainwright two starts before the end of the first half, but

starting Sunday will at least limit him in Tuesday’s Midsummer

Classic at New York’s Citi Field. The latest collective bargaining

agreement gives pitchers who start on Sunday the option of throwing

in the All-Star game but no more than one inning.

Wainwright (12-5, 2.30 ERA) has said he would ideally like to

give his spot to Cardinals closer Edward Mujica. Should he choose

to opt out, however, the choice of his replacement would fall to

San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy.

“I don’t think you can make a (final) decision on it until we

see what happens (Sunday),” Wainwright told the team’s website. “I

mean, if the game were to get rained out and I backed out for no

reason that would be silly. But if I pitch (Sunday), then I would

probably forgo the chance to pitch in the All-Star game to allow

for some rest.”

First, Wainwright will try to break a tie with Washington’s

Jordan Zimmermann for the NL wins lead. He matched Zimmermann’s

victory total by allowing one run over seven innings and striking

out nine in a 9-5 victory against Houston on Tuesday.

Since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2011, Wainwright is 0-2

with a 5.90 ERA in five starts against the Cubs (42-50). He gave up

four runs over seven innings in his only matchup this season, a 4-2

loss June 18.

Wainwright’s last win against Chicago was on Sept. 24, 2010, and

Travis Wood (6-6, 2.69) will try to help prevent him from earning

another.

Wood, the Cubs’ lone All-Star, faces the same decision as

Wainwright.

“It’s going to be a (side session day) anyway. I’ve got no

problem with him pitching one inning, or 20 pitches. He goes all

out on his side days anyways,” manager Dale Sveum told the team’s

website.

In his final start of the first half, Wood will try to build on

his first win since May 30. The left-hander gave up two runs over 6

2-3 innings in a 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on

Tuesday. He got six runs of support after receiving a combined nine

in his previous six outings.

Wood has split his two starts against the Cardinals this season.

He gave up one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 2-1 victory at Wrigley

Field on May 7, and allowed four runs in seven innings in a 5-2

road loss June 17.

St. Louis will try to hand him another defeat while attempting

to move back in front of Pittsburgh in the NL Central.

The Cubs are trying to end the first half with a 12th win in 18

games.

Chicago also has a chance to win the four-game series over its

archrivals after claiming a 6-4 victory Saturday. Alfonso Soriano

hit his ninth homer in 15 games, and Luis Valbuena had a key

two-run shot in the fourth inning.

Neither Matt Holliday (hamstring) nor All-Star catcher Yadier

Molina (right knee) were in the starting lineup Saturday, although

Molina entered in the eighth inning.