"That whole weekend was wrapped up in three innings," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum of the one-sided series. "We tied them for about 24, and the other three weren't so good."
The Cubs will celebrate the legacy of Hall of Famer Ron Santo on Friday, and they'll hope to use that occasion to forge another victory. Chicago is reportedly deeply embroiled in trade talks for veteran Ryan Dempster, a negotiation that looms over every turn through the rotation.
Travis Wood will start for Chicago on Friday, and he'll be matched against Lance Lynn for the Cardinals. St. Louis has seen its starting pitcher complete at least six innings in 21 straight games, and manager Mike Matheny knows he needs that streak to keep his bullpen fresh.
"That helps. Early on we kind of had the same thing," said the former catcher. "Starters were going deep, things were playing out well. Then we went into a 20-game stretch where starters were making shorter appearances and that puts more stress on your 'pen. It's typical. That's how it goes."
Wood and Lynn matched up last Sunday, and the result was a 7-0 victory for the Cardinals in the series finale. The Cardinals trail the first-place Reds by 5 ½ games in the National League Central, and the Cubs are fighting to stay out of the cellar and to make modest improvements.
Lynn has dominated Chicago this season, notching a 3-0 record with a 0.94 ERA in three starts. The right-hander threw six shutout innings against the Cubs last week, and he's given up a grand total of one earned run over the course of his last three starts.
"Before the All-Star break, I had those few starts that were pretty miserable," said Lynn. "I'm pitching with a little chip on my shoulder, trying to get as many outs as I can before they come get me."
Veteran slugger Alfonso Soriano was off on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to Pittsburgh in order to be given two days of rest (including Thursday's off-day). The seven-time All-Star should be back on Friday. Soriano, who hit his 19th homer on Tuesday, can join Hall of Famer Andre Dawson as the only players to hit 20 or more home runs in each of their first six seasons with the Cubs.
Cardinals: Fuentes joins big league team
Two weeks after Brian Fuentes was released by the A's, the 36-year-old's contract was selected by the Cardinals. Fuentes, who had been at Double-A Springfield, takes the roster spot of pitcher Victor Marte, who was optioned to Triple-A Memphis.
The Cardinals created space on the 40-man roster by designating pitcher Chuckie Fick for assignment. Fuentes, a left-hander, was 2-2 with a 6.84 ERA and five saves in 26 appearances for Oakland this season before being released. He has 204 career saves.
Cubs: Santo Day includes No. 10 mowed in center
Friday is the Cubs' first home game following Santo's Hall of Fame induction, and the Cooperstown ceremony will be extended to Chicago.
Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field will bring members of Santo's family on the field for a pregame ceremony. The first 10,000 fans will receive a commemorative Santo Hall of Fame plaque, and No. 10 will be etched into center field.
There will also be free samples of Chicago Kernel Gourmet Popcorn, with limited-edition tins on sale from the company, as well as commemorative memorabilia available from Majestic. Majestic's sales proceeds benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Cubs pitcher Randy Wells underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow and is likely done for the year.
Lance Berkman has missed two straight starts due to a bruised right knee but could return to the Cardinals' lineup on Friday.