Cardinals-Cubs Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals are slumping, and the lowly Chicago Cubs

are contributing to their struggles.

The Cardinals try to bounce back from an anemic offensive

showing Saturday against Travis Wood.

St. Louis (69-52) lost Friday’s opener 7-0 after dropping two of

three at home to the Cubs last weekend.

“We’ve played some of our best baseball against them,” Chicago

manager Dale Sveum said. “Even in some of the ballgames we’ve lost,

we’ve played good ball and come up on the short end. We’ve played

these guys really well.”

The Cubs are 7-7 against the Cardinals but 12-28 against the

rest of the NL Central.

Chicago (53-68), however, isn’t the only team giving St. Louis

problems. The Cardinals have lost six of nine and own the NL’s

second-worst record since July 26 at 7-15.

Carlos Beltran doubled and accounted for St. Louis’ only two

hits Friday, as Jake Arrieta dominated in his second start for the

Cubs.

Highly touted prospect Kolten Wong made his major league debut

for the Cardinals, going 0 for 3 with a strikeout. Manager Mike

Matheny had the 22-year-old playing second base and moved regular

second baseman Matt Carpenter to third. Struggling David Freese was

relegated to the bench but is expected to be back in the lineup

against Wood (7-9, 3.00 ERA).

Yadier Molina also will likely return after a day off following

an 0-for-5 return from the disabled list. The NL MVP candidate is

batting .429 with nine RBIs against the Cubs this season and is 5

for 9 in 2013 matchups with Wood.

Beltran is also excelling in those matchups, batting .392 with

six doubles against Chicago and going 3 for 10 versus the

left-hander.

Wood yielded two runs and four hits in a season-high eight

innings against Cincinnati on Monday but was saddled with a 2-0

loss. It was his 20th quality start – tying him for second in the

majors – and the third time in four outings he allowed two runs or

fewer.

Although Wood is enjoying a solid season, it hasn’t led to many

wins, with the Cubs losing 10 of his last 13 starts.

Friday’s victory snapped a four-game losing streak for Chicago

and seven-game skid at Wrigley Field. Nate Schierholtz drove in

three runs while Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo each scored twice

for the Cubs, who had been shut out in two of their previous three

games.

Rizzo is partly to blame for Chicago’s offensive woes, batting

.140 in his last 13 contests. He is 3 for 23 in his last six games

against St. Louis and 1 for 9 lifetime versus Joe Kelly (3-3,

3.14).

Kelly was a little shaky against Chicago on Sunday, giving up

four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings and not earning a decision

in an 8-4 victory. He walked two, and is averaging 4.1 walks per

nine innings over his last seven outings.

“I would like to go a little deeper, I can’t do that when I

start walking guys like that,” the right-hander told the Cardinals’

official website.

Kelly was 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA over his previous four starts.

That stretch began at Wrigley on July 12, when he allowed a run and

three hits over 5 1-3 innings of a 3-2 victory.

Wood is 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in three starts against the

Cardinals this season.