Cubs-Cardinals Preview

A healthier Kyle Lohse has been one of the best pitchers in the

majors this season, but he hasn’t proved successful in recent

matchups with the Chicago Cubs.

Facing an injury-plagued Cubs lineup might help Lohse end those

struggles and earn a fourth straight win Saturday at Busch

Stadium.

Lohse (7-2, 2.13 ERA) has gone at least six innings in each of

his 11 outings and is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA in his last five. The

right-hander gave up two runs and six hits over his six frames

Sunday while striking out six during a 4-3 win in Colorado.

After winning a career-best 15 games in 2008, Lohse totaled 10

victories over the last two seasons while dealing with forearm and

groin problems.

“It feels good to go through what I’ve gone through and come

back and feel like I’m getting that consistency I want to get out

there,” Lohse said. “Not having a start here or there you want to

forget about. I’m looking to keep it going.”

In this start, Lohse has a chance to tie for the major league

lead in wins, but he’s endured some forgettable outings against the

Cubs, including a 9-7 defeat in St. Louis on Aug. 15. He gave up

seven runs over three innings in that game and is 0-3 with an 8.07

ERA in his last seven matchups.

This time, Lohse will face a Cubs team without leading home run

hitter Alfonso Soriano, who went on the disabled list Tuesday

because of a strained left quad. A trio of .300 hitters – Marlon

Byrd (multiple facial fractures), Reed Johnson (back) and Jeff

Baker (groin) – are also on the DL, and Aramis Ramirez sat out the

series opener after getting hit in the face with a grounder

Wednesday.

With those players missing, Chicago (23-32) had five hits in a

6-1 defeat and has hit .192 in losing six of seven. Former Cubs

infielder Ryan Theriot, meanwhile, extended his career-best hit

streak to 17 games – the longest active run in the majors.

Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman also homered as St. Louis

(34-25) avoided their longest home skid to their arch-rivals in 33

years.

The Cardinals will try to further distance themselves from that

streak by handing the Cubs a season-high fifth straight loss and

adding to Randy Wells’ woes.

In his first start back from a strained right forearm, the St.

Louis-area native gave up five runs over four innings during a 10-0

loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday.

“I got behind a lot of hitters and ran the pitch count up,”

said Wells, who struck out seven and threw 92 pitches. “I don’t

know if it was so much rust as I was anxious to get back out there

and see how things were going.”

Wells (1-1, 5.40), however, had a 0.60 ERA while winning his

final two starts against the Cardinals last season after going 0-2

with a 10.13 ERA in his first three career matchups.

Theriot has never faced his former teammate, while Berkman and

Colby Rasmus are both 3 for 8 (.375) against the right-hander.

Pujols has one hit in eight at-bats.