Cardinals Visit Wrigley

The St. Louis Cardinals make their first visit to Wrigley Field on Friday, when they open a weekend series.

Just as they did last week at Milwaukee, the Cubs have a chance not only to "make a statement," but to put some distance between themselves and the Cardinals in the NL Central.

The Cubs swept four games from the Brewers last week, increasing a one-game lead to five. Chicago leads St. Louis by six games.

Before and even during the Milwaukee series, Cubs manager Lou Piniella downplayed its importance. The series with St. Louis is something different, if only because of the calendar.

"We've talked about the Milwaukee series," Piniella said. "It was in July. This one's in August. We've got a chance to extricate ourselves from them, and they've got an equal chance of getting closer. It's still a little early in the season, but it would be nice for us to play well against them."

The Cubs and Cardinals split six games at Busch Stadium in two series earlier this season.

NOTES, QUOTES

--SS Ryan Theriot is day-to-day with a bruised left foot. He suffered the injury Wednesday, when he fouled a ball off the foot and later came out of the game.

--LHP Scott Eyre was traded to the Phillies for Class A RHP Brian Schlitter. Eyre was designated for assignment Tuesday. There was no room on the pitching staff for Eyre, especially with LHPs Neal Cotts and Sean Marshall pitching well out of the 'pen. The Cubs will send Schlitter to Class A Daytona.

--LHP Ted Lilly opens the series against the Cardinals on Friday at Wrigley Field. He's 1-0 in two starts against the Cardinals this season and has 14 quality starts this season.

--INF/OF Mark DeRosa is off to a 7-for-16 (.438) start in August, with three doubles, a home run and eight RBIs, after a July in which he hit only .195. Manager Lou Piniella gave the versatile DeRosa a much-needed day off this week. "He can hit for a little power," Piniella said. "He has a penchant for driving in runs, and he battles up there pretty well. My job is to keep him rested, too, because we move him around a lot."

--RF Kosuke Fukudome has batted seventh in each of the past three games. He's off to a 3-for-18 (.167) start this month after batting .236 in July. Fukudome ended April with a .416 on-base percentage. His OBP for the season has fallen to .376.


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