Inside The Ivy: Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Two bitter rivals renew their acquaintance Tuesday night in a showdown with more at stake than mere bragging rights. The Cubs and Cardinals begin their fourth series of the year with Chicago just two games out of first place behind the surging Cardinals. Both clubs have played 11 head-to-head meetings so far the season, with the Cubs holding a 6-5 edge.

The Cubs come in on a roll, having won eight of their last 10 games dating back to the beginning of a three-game set at Anaheim on June 11.

Game One starter Greg Maddux has pitched twice during that run, allowing only four earned runs in 13 1/3 IP. The Cardinals come in on a similar wave of success, winning seven of their last nine dating back to the 11th. Game one features two former Atlanta Braves right-handers, the aforementioned Maddux for the Cubs and Jason Marquis, who twirled seven strong innings in his last start against Oakland, for the Cardinals.

The Cubs come in on a roll, having won eight of their last 10 games dating back to June 12 at Anaheim.

Game One starter Greg Maddux has pitched twice during that run, allowing only four earned runs in 13 1/3 IP. The Cardinals come in on a similar wave of success, winning seven of their last nine dating back to the 11th. Game one features two former Atlanta Braves right-handers, the aforementioned Maddux for the Cubs and Jason Marquis, who twirled seven strong innings in his last start against Oakland, for the Cardinals.

All six of the scheduled starters in this series are coming off recently strong outings, and game three starter Chris Carpenter's 3.95 ERA is second highest of the six scheduled to go in the three games at Busch Stadium. St. Louis boasts a powerful offensive attack that leads the National League in runs scored and slugging percentage, while ranking second in batting average and OPS, and sixth in OBP.

The Cardinals have received strong work on offense from the core of Albert Pujols (1.017 OPS), Scott Rolen (1.056 OPS) and Jim Edmonds (.942 OPS). John Mabry (.912 OPS) has also played well in limited at-bats. Meanwhile, the Cubs have recently been above average offensively, ranking sixth in the NL in runs scored and now first in total hits. They are also fifth in batting average, second in slugging percentage and third in OPS, but only ninth in OBP.

Derrek Lee (.916 OPS), Aramis Ramirez (.906 OPS), Moises Alou (.873 OPS) and Todd Walker (.869 OPS) have all led Chicago's offensive attack. Catcher Michael Barrett (.858 OPS) has been a pleasant surprise offensively, while Sammy Sosa (.960 OPS) and Todd Hollandsworth (.941 OPS) have also played well in split playing time. The Cubs come into the series with a pitching staff that has compiled the NL's second best ERA (3.72), while St. Louis has been more pedestrian at 4.08.

Cubs Road Record:           19-15     Last 10: 8-2
Cardinals Home Record:  18-16:    Last 10: 7-3

Pitching Probables, TV Times

Game 1: Tuesday, June 22, 7:10 CT: Greg Maddux (6-5, 3.91) vs. Jason Marquis (6-4, 4.26) - Fox Sports Chicago

Game 2: Wednesday, June 23, 6:10 CT: Glendon Rusch (4-1, 3.68) vs. Jeff Suppan (6-5, 3.65) - ESPN

Game 3: Thursday, June 24, 7:10 CT: Matt Clement (7-5, 3.07) vs. Chris Carpenter (7-2, 3.95)


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