At last, the Cardinals will make their first visit to Chicago to play the Cubs. That four-game series will take place next weekend after the Cardinals play three games at Milwaukee, Monday through Wednesday.
The Cardinals have had huge success against their own Central Division this year, winning 32 of 45 games, including seven of 10 from Milwaukee. But the Cubs have a winning record against the Cardinals, having taken three of five in St. Louis.
As August rolls along, the Cardinals gradually should be getting back some of their injured players. C Yadier Molina, out since July 7 with a broken bone in his left hand, should be the first back, although he won't play on this seven-game trip.
RF Larry Walker also might be ready to play in the next two weeks as he continues to recover from a herniated disc in his neck. He will begin swinging a bat on Monday.
The Cardinals will have another four-game swing to Wrigley Field in September. On this week's trip to Chicago, only RHP Jeff Suppan of the five-man rotation will not start against the Cubs.
Against Milwaukee, the Cardinals will go with two almost automatics. RHP Matt Morris is 11-4 against the Brewers in his career, and Suppan is 8-2 against Milwaukee.
After 112 consecutive starts by their five-man rotation, the Cardinals may have another starter either Tuesday or Wednesday to give their five-man corps an extra day of rest.
--When LHP Mark Mulder receives four or more runs in support, he will be the winning pitcher 80 percent of the time, according to statistics.
Mulder got six runs Friday night, marking the 94th time he had received four or more in his career with St. Louis and Oakland. For the 75th time in 84 decisions, he was the winning pitcher.
Firing 65 strikes in 100 pitches, an obviously-in-command Mulder limited the Atlanta Braves to just one run over seven innings in an 11-3 Cardinals romp. He was pitching in front of several family members on his 28th birthday, including his younger brother, a helicopter pilot, who soon will be deployed to Iraq.
The game had been advertised as a top-of-the-line matchup between fellow 12-game winners Mulder and Atlanta RHP John Smoltz.
Mulder, meanwhile, moved to 12-1 with a 2.14 ERA at night, as compared to 1-4, 6.93 in the daytime.
--1B Albert Pujols became the first player to hit 30 or more homers for his first five seasons in the big leagues. He already was the only player to do it in his first four seasons.
--CF Jim Edmonds' 20th homer Friday gave him a 10th season at that level, the last six of those coming with the Cardinals. His low for a season in St. Louis is 28 and his high is 42 in 2000, his first season with the club.
--The Cardinals failed in their first attempt to go 30 games over .500 Thursday when they couldn't overcome RHP Jeff Suppan putting them down 4-0 after five innings. They rallied but still lost 4-3 and were 68-40. Last year, after 108 games, they were 70-38 en route to 105 wins.
Suppan was touched for a two-run homer in the first by LF Miguel Cabrera, who had four hits. Suppan has given up 18 runs in the first inning, his worst inning statistically.
--The Cardinals last week faced the Marlins, their spring training partners in Jupiter, Fla., for the first time this season. The teams will play three more games at Miami later in the month.
--RHP Jeff Suppan allowed at least one run in the first inning for the 10th time Thursday. The Cardinals are 3-7 in those games.
--RHP Matt Morris never had lost three consecutive starts in his Cardinals career, which began in 1997. But he was headed that way Wednesday night until a Cardinals surge that netted four runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth.
That burst gave the Cardinals a 9-6 win over Florida and boosted Morris to 12-4 for the season. The win was the 99th in his career for Morris, who overcame giving up three runs in the first two innings to allow only one over his final five.
After Morris served up a leadoff homer to SS Damion Easley in the second, Morris threw 12 ground-ball outs of the next 18 he recorded as he got better control of his sinker.
The game came down to two managerial moves in the seventh. With Florida RHP Josh Beckett having given up only four hits and ahead 4-2 with one out, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sent up his only left-handed pinch-hitter in John Mabry.
Florida manager Jack McKeon countered with LHP Ron Villone, working for the third night, and wasted Mabry. But La Russa's counter to the counter was to send up OF So Taguchi as a pinch-hitter. The right-handed Taguchi had been only two for 18 as a pinch hitter, but he delivered a three-run homer to win the game.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1-9 -- The Cardinals' record in RHP Jason Marquis' last 10 starts (he is 1-7 in that span). Marquis has gone from 8-3 to 9-10. During the same stretch, since June 15, the Cardinals are 28-9 when a pitcher other than Marquis starts.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There wasn't that pressure at the trading deadline to make a deal to try and find an outfielder." -- General manager Walt Jocketty, lauding the fast start of rookie OF John Rodriguez after the latter's call-up from Triple-A Memphis.
1. LHP Mark Mulder
2. RHP Chris Carpenter
3. RHP Jason Marquis
4. RHP Jeff Suppan
5. RHP Matt Morris
RHP Jason Isringhausen (closer)
LHP Ray King
RHP Julian Tavarez
RHP Al Reyes
RHP Brad Thompson
RHP Cal Eldred
LHP Randy Flores
1. SS David Eckstein
2. 3B Abraham Nunez
3. 1B Albert Pujols
4. CF Jim Edmonds
5. RF John Gall
6. 2B Mark Grudzielanek
7. LF John Mabry/John Rodriguez
8. C Einar Diaz
OF So Taguchi
INF Hector Luna
3B Scott Seabol
RF Larry Walker, neck, 15-day DL.
3B Scott Rolen, inflamed rotator cuff, 15-day DL.
C Yadier Molina, fractured left pinky finger, 15-day DL.
LF Reggie Sanders, hairline fracture in left tibia, 15-day DL.