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PIT@STL: Wainwright fans six over seven strong frames

Oddly enough, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has run into some troubles this season against the Cubs -- who currently stand in fourth place in the National League Central and are 16 games under .500.

Yet, in two starts, the NL Cy Young Award contender is 0-1 with a 5.54 ERA.

Wainwright is looking for win No. 14 for the fifth time this season, as the Cardinals and Cubs wrap up a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Sunday. St. Louis has had its troubles with Chicago this season, and is just 8-7 against its division rivals.

The Cubs will send starter Edwin Jackson to the mound to face Wainwright. Jackson allowed four runs over five innings when he faced the Cards last Sunday, but did not factor in the decision.

Wainwright enters the game with 182 2/3 innings pitched, the most in the Majors. But the Cardinals are not concerned about their ace's heavy workload.

"He feels good," said Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak. "That's not to say that, at times, he doesn't feel somewhat tired because of what he's doing. But from a physical standpoint, he's strong and he understands the day-to-day rigors."

Wainwright's 2.71 ERA is still sixth in the Majors, his 162 strikeouts rank fourth and he has the best walks-per-nine-innings ratio at 1.18.

The Cubs' offense has received a spark from recent callup Donnie Murphy, who's played mostly third base and some shortstop. In 11 games, Murphy is hitting .324 with four homers and nine RBIs.

"It's always a confidence builder when you can come up from Day 1 and help the team out hitting-wise," said Murphy.

Cubs third basemen have combined to hit more home runs than any other position on the team, and they've come from some unusual power hitters. Luis Valbuena (nine), Cody Ransom (seven) and Murphy (four) have combined to hit 20 home runs this season.

"It's been our most productive position, home run-wise," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "The average hasn't been too hot, but at least there's been production and good defense out of all of them. It's been a nice trifecta there that's helped our offense out."

The Cardinals are also likely to have catcher Yadier Molina start again on Sunday, which would be his first back-to-back starts behind the plate since returning from the disabled list on Thursday. The team has been monitoring his playing time.

Cardinals: Westbrook to remain in rotation
The Cardinals are planning to keep veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook in the rotation, despite his recent struggles.

The Cubs torched Westbrook in his last start for seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and five walks. He has a 10.13 ERA, opponents are hitting .333 off him and he has more walks (15) than strikeouts (10) over 21 1/3 innings over his past four starts.

His troubles extend even longer, as Westbrook has a a 5.86 ERA in 12 games since his return from the disabled list from an elbow injury on June 12.

"I think it's just a matter of controlling counts," Westbrook said. "When I make a mistake, it's getting hit. I'm not putting myself in a good position to succeed. It's really cost me."

Cubs: Baez continues to impress
The Cubs originally planned to take things slowly and allow top prospect Javier Baez to develop in the Minor Leagues. But he might be forcing their hand.

Baez is batting .293 with 14 home runs at Double-A Tennessee -- and including his time at Class A Daytona, he has a combined 31 homers. The 20-year old is No. 1 on's list of the Cubs' top 20 prospects, and Chicago manager Dale Sveum has been impressed by the video he has seen of Baez.

"You don't count any of that out, because we've seen it happen before," Sveum said about Baez possibly breaking into the Majors by next spring. "When you have those kind of numbers and power, sometimes you do force the issue. It's not in the plans, right now, but we've all seen it happen."

Worth noting
• With the Cubs starting a right-hander in the series finale, there's a good chance that recent callup Kolten Wong will be back in the Cardinals' lineup for his second career start -- he struck out in a pinch-hit appearance in the seventh inning on Saturday. If Wong is in, he'll play second and Matt Carpenter will move to third.

• Jackson is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals.

• The Cardinals shut the Cubs out at Wrigley for the first time since September 2003. Chicago has been shutout in five of its last seven home games. Comments