Cardinals look to avoid sweep in Wrigley finale

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs will try to extend their lead over the third-place St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday while left-handed starter Jose Quintana gets another chance to state his case for inclusion in Chicago's postseason rotation.

"(Quintana's) in good shape right now," said Cubs manager Joe Maddon recently. "He's very excited about being in this moment. There's no question about that. But there's nothing for him to prove to us right now."

Quintana, who was acquired from the crosstown White Sox in a July trade, makes his 12th start with the Cubs and 30th of the season in Sunday's series finale.He's 6-3 with a 3.88 ERA so far with the Cubs.

The Cardinals will counter with right-hander Lance Lynn (11-7, 3.01 ERA), making his team-best 31st start of the season.

The Cardinals sit five games behind the Cubs and a game behind second-place Milwaukee in the National League Central after dropping the first two games of the series. They are 4 1/2 games out of the second NL wild-card spot, held by Colorado.

In his last start Sept. 12 against the Mets, Quintana allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings, tying his longest outing with the Cubs. Quintana, who was 4-8 with a 4.49 ERA in 18 starts with the White Sox, has pitched three straight quality starts for the Cubs, going 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA in that stretch.

Quintana is 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA in three career starts against St. Louis, allowing three runs in six innings July 23 at Wrigley Field in a 5-3 Cubs victory.

Lynn, 30, is among the St. Louis pitchers with the most experience againstthe Cubs.He's 6-6 with a 4.07 ERA in 17 career appearances (16 starts) againstChicago since 2011. At Wrigley Field, he's 2-3 with a 4.60 ERA but has dropped three of his last four starts in Chicago.

Lynn (11-7, 3.01 ERA) has now had four straight seasons with 30-plus starts (he missed 2016 with an injury). Lynn ranks among NL leaders in starts (30, tied second), ERA (3.01, sixth), opponent's average (.216, fifth) and WHIP (1.16, tied for sixth).

Lynn said he was dissatisfied that he gave up four runs in his last start, a 13-4 Cardinals victory.

"If I give up more than one, I don't feel like I did my job," Lynn said. "I don't worry about run support. I'm going out there to do everything I can to help the team win and whatever happens, happens."

In three previous starts, he had allowed just three runs over 21 innings while receiving just one run of support.

Sunday's finale wraps up the Chicago leg of the Cubs-Cardinals 2017 series. The visitors hope to salvage something at Wrigley Field, where they are 1-7 this season.The Cubs hold an overall 10-4 series lead in '17.

The teams have one more head-to-head opportunity next weekend between the NL Central leader and challenger.

In the meantime, both have Monday off and head in separate direction as Chicago visits Tampa Bay for a two-game interleague series on Tuesday and Wednesday while St. Louis continues its road trip at Cincinnati.