LEADING OFF: Cards-Cubs wrap series, Beltran big for Yanks

A look at what's happening around the major leagues Sunday:



The playoff-bound Cardinals will try to avoid a sweep in what's become a testy series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Three St. Louis batters were hit by pitches Saturday, leading to the ejections of Chicago manager Joe Maddon and reliever Hector Rondon. On Friday, Maddon called the Cards a ''vigilante group'' after Anthony Rizzo was plunked as apparent retribution for Matt Holliday being hit earlier in the game.


Carlos Beltran and the Yankees look for a Subway Series win after splitting two games with the Mets at Citi Field. Beltran socked a 100 mph fastball from Noah Syndergaard into the second deck in a 5-0 win Saturday. The 38-year-old Beltran is hitting .279 with 16 homers this season, his 18th in the majors. The Yankees send out CC Sabathia (4-9, 4.93) in the finale while the Mets will pitch Matt Harvey (12-7, 2.88). It will be Harvey's first game since getting knocked around at Washington on Sept. 8.


The Blue Jays look to stretch their 3 1/2-game lead in the AL East as they close a three-game series with Boston before starting a pivotal set vs. the second-place Yankees on Monday. Usually reliable LHP Mark Buehrle (14-7, 3.66) has been inconsistent of late and struggled the last time he faced Boston on Sept. 7. Rich Hill makes his second start for the Red Sox this year. He struck out 10 over seven one-hit innings against Tampa Bay his last time out in his first start in more than six years.


The Dodgers and Pirates wrap a series featuring two likely postseason teams in Los Angeles. Mike Bolsinger (6-3, 3.13), who was excellent in some early season spot starts, has settled in as a dependable option at the back of LA's rotation. Gerrit Cole (16-8, 2.60) pitches for Pittsburgh, which is still trying to catch first-place St. Louis in the NL Central.


With his Nationals holding on to the faintest of playoff hopes, Stephen Strasburg (9-7, 3.98) faces the visiting Miami Marlins, and he'll try to come up with a suitable encore for his latest gem. Last week, he tied his career high with 14 strikeouts - the total he had in his 2010 big league debut - and allowed only one hit in eight shutout innings against Philadelphia.