The St. Louis Cardinals are looking to keep their offense rolling after breaking out of their funk in a big way.
St. Louis tries to build on its highest run total of the year as it wraps up a four-game home set against the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.
The Cardinals (72-63) had been outscored 20-6 during a four-game losing streak before winning 13-2 to split Saturday's doubleheader. Matt Holliday had two homers and a season-high five RBIs and rookie Marco Gonzales earned his first win behind six strong innings.
St. Louis went 6 for 9 with runners in scoring position and plated nine runs in the eighth inning. The Cardinals are one game behind Milwaukee for the NL Central lead and one ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates - whom they host for three games starting Monday - for the second wild-card spot.
"We really need those big production days and Matt's the guy that can do that," said manager Mike Matheny, whose team lost 5-1 in the twinbill opener. "It's nice to see and nice to see him lead like he did."
John Lackey (2-1, 4.50 ERA) is set to make his sixth start for St. Louis since coming over from Boston on July 31. The right-hander, who threw seven innings of one-run ball to win 3-2 at Pittsburgh on Monday, has allowed one or two earned runs in seven of his last eight outings.
"I think guys know when we have a pitcher like Lackey on the mound, he's going to keep us in the game," Matheny said.
Lackey gave up two runs over seven innings in his only appearance against the Cubs, a 3-2 win in 2004 with the then-Anaheim Angels.
Chicago (61-75) dropped to 6-3 over its last nine after failing to sweep the doubleheader. Jorge Soler gave the Cubs an early lead with an RBI double in the first inning.
Soler is now 8 for 15 with five extra-base hits - three homers - and seven RBIs in four games since getting called up Wednesday.
Travis Wood (8-11, 4.72) takes the ball for Chicago looking to build on Tuesday's 3-0 win at Cincinnati. The left-hander snapped a six-game losing streak and earned his first victory since June 15 behind six innings of two-hit ball.
"It feels good, especially to be able to throw the ball the way I did," he told MLB's official website.
While Wood is 2-0 with a 4.00 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals this year, he is 1-3 with a 7.20 ERA in his last four at Busch Stadium.
No one in baseball has faced Wood more than Holliday, who is 11 for 34 with three homers and three doubles in their matchups. Yadier Molina is an even more impressive 14 for 33 with seven extra-base hits - three homers.
The Cubs will again be without All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who hasn't played since Tuesday due to a tight lower back. Rizzo is second in the league with 30 homers.
"It's day to day," Rizzo said." But as far as baseball stuff, we'll be done until Monday. ... I don't want to come back and then miss the rest of the season if I'm really bad. I can wait a couple days to play the rest of the season.
"This is an important month. The better we do now, the better we go into the offseason, the better we go into spring training, and everyone else feels it."
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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