Coming off their first shutout victory in St. Louis in 16 years, the Chicago Cubs eye a series victory on Saturday night in the middle portion of a three-game set with the Cardinals.
Behind an excellent effort from starter Chris Rusin and four relievers, the Cubs rolled to a 3-0 win at Busch Stadium on Friday night. Rusin scattered seven hits and two walks while striking out five over six innings and the bullpen held the Cards without a hit following a Jon Jay single in the sixth.
Kevin Gregg did yield a two-out walk before locking down his 24th save of the year and securing Rusin's second win of the campaign.
"He's pitching really, really well," manager Dale Sveum said of Rusin. "The thing with him is when he throws strikes. The ball can move so much, that he gets some swings and misses on some balls that are quite a ways out of the zone. He did a great job again."
Junior Lake singled in a run during the seventh inning and later scored on Anthony Rizzo's two-run base hit as the Cubs won for the only the third time in 12 games since a three-game sweep of San Francisco from July 26-28.
Chicago also picked up its first shutout in St. Louis since June 23, 1997, but still trails the season series 6-5.
Jay had three hits for the Cardinals, who have dropped three in a row and 12 of their last 16 contests. They trail Pittsburgh by four games for first place in the NL Central.
Jay has logged a hit in 10 of his past 12 games, batting .388 with five doubles and seven RBI in that time.
Lance Lynn was denied his 14th win of the season as he was charged with three runs on three hits and a season high-tying five walks. Lynn, who was removed after 6 2/3 innings, fell to 8-2 at home this season.
"That was a tough one. I felt good, I was just missing," Lynn said. "It's one of those things, they got me in some deep counts and they worked some walks and they weren't chasing some stuff."
With an off day coming on Monday, the Cardinals are slated to recall 22-year- old Michael Wacha to start tonight's game and give the rotation some extra rest. Joe Kelly will start Sunday's contest versus the Cubs and Adam Wainwright will be pushed back to Tuesday's big opener with the Pirates.
"We talk about this long stretch of games and how our starters just continue to go out there on normal rest," manager Mike Matheny said on St. Louis' website. "We have an off day coming. I think that's an opportunity to get Michael in there and give our guys a little more rest."
The 19th overall pick of the 2012 draft, Wacha made three starts earlier this year with the Cards from May 30-June 11 and went 1-0 with a 4.58 earned run average. The bulk of that damage came in his last outing at home on June 4, when he allowed six runs over 4 2/3 innings of a no-decision versus Arizona.
The right-hander, ranked the Cardinals' second-best prospect by MLB.com, is 5-3 with a 2.65 ERA in 15 starts with Triple-A Memphis this season and has logged a 3.51 ERA with 39 strikeouts in six starts since his demotion.
Chicago's Carlos Villanueva tries to secure his first victory since June 29, a relief appearance. He dropped his fourth straight decision on Sunday versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, yielding a run on two hits and three walks over six innings. However, the Cubs were blanked 1-0, denying Villanueva his first win as a starter since April 18.
The right-hander was still able to take some positives out of the outing despite falling to 2-8 with a 4.16 ERA in 30 games (14 starts) this season.
"I felt good," said Villanueva. "I've felt pretty good my last couple of starts. I've been able to establish my fastball more."
Villanueva's current losing streak includes a setback at home versus the Cardinals on July 12. It was another tough-luck outing as the 29-year-old limited the club to a pair of runs over six innings.
In 28 career meetings with St. Louis, including nine starts, Villanueva is 5-4 with a 3.14 ERA.