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News » Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-25

Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-25

Cubs-Cardinals Preview 2009-04-25
With a victory Saturday, the St. Louis Cardinals can accomplish something they haven't done in three seasons - beat the Chicago Cubs in consecutive games.

With the Cubs on a season-high skid and their top run producer as well as their best reliever possibly out, the Cardinals have to like their chances as the National League Central Division rivals continue their three-game series in St. Louis.

In another back-and-forth game with Chicago, the Cardinals (12-5) prevailed in Thursday night's opener thanks to Albert Pujols. While Pujols recorded a hit in his 15th consecutive home game against Chicago, it was his third straight game with a stolen base that set up the 4-3 victory.

After a one-out single in the eighth, Pujols swiped second, and Ryan Ludwick drove him home on a base hit.

"I play the game hard, play the game the right way," said Pujols, who is hitting .636 in the last three games. "Whatever you feel in your gut, then you go, and hopefully you get there safe."

With a pair of 2-for-4 performance, Pujols raised his average to .355, and Ludwick improved to .364. Hitting .302, the Cardinals are tied with Toronto for first in the majors.

The Cubs (8-7) might have lost more than just their third consecutive game as third baseman Aramis Ramirez and pitcher Carlos Marmol left Thursday's game with injuries.

Ramirez, who has a team-best 14 RBIs and is second with a .353 average, strained his left calf running the bases on a second-inning double and exited in the fifth. Marmol left after 12 pitches with an unknown injury and suffered his first defeat by giving up Ludwick's single.

Outfielder Milton Bradley, hitting .043 (1-for-23) since after signing a $30 million deal in January, is limited with a strained right groin. He walked in his only at-bat Thursday.

"We've go no bench," manager Lou Piniella said. "We're going to have to get somebody in here."

Looking for better production from his offense, Piniella tweaked his lineup before Thursday's game, moving Alfonso Soriano from the leadoff spot to third and Ramirez from fifth to fourth. Soriano, who batted third for the first time since May 2007, extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an eighth-inning double.

With one run in its previous two games, the Cubs produced three in the seventh to tie the game but only one came via a hit - Mike Fontenot's double. Chicago also scored on Skip Schumacher's dropped fly ball and a double play with no outs.

After scoring 22 runs during a three-game win streak - including two victories over St. Louis last weekend - the Cubs have been limited to four during their skid and hit .214 (21-for-98).

Piniella will look to Sean Marshall (0-0, 4.50 ERA), who allowed three runs over seven innings April 16 before the team's bullpen faltered in a 7-4 loss. He is 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA in six starts and 10 lifetime appearances versus St. Louis

For their first win streak against the Cubs since a three-game sweep from Aug. 25-27, 2006, St. Louis will give Mitchell Boggs (0-0, 4.50) his first start this season. Boggs threw two innings in relief April 17 in his only appearance against Chicago.

The 25-year-old right-hander went 3-2 with a 7.55 ERA in six starts last season.

With eight straight home victories, St. Louis is on its longest streak since winning 10 in a row from Aug. 20-Sept. 5, 2004.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 25, 2009

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