(SportsNetwork.com) - Jon Lester gets the task of trying to slow down St. Louis on Wednesday night when the Chicago Cubs play the third contest of a four-game set with the streaking Cardinals.
Having finally secured his first victory this season with the Cubs, Lester will take the mound tonight looking to improve on his 1-2 mark and 4.71 earned run average through five starts.
The 31-year-old southpaw blanked the Milwaukee Brewers over seven innings of a 1-0 victory on Friday, scattering three hits (all singles) and a walk. He struck out just four after having fanned 10 one start earlier in Cincinnati.
"This is a big day for me, personally," Lester told the Cubs' website. "It always goes back to your first start in Spring Training, your first start of the season, get that first 'W.' Obviously, I would've liked to have had it happen a little while ago, but that's not the case. Today's a big day."
Lester lost his Cubs debut on April 5 to the Cardinals, charged with three runs on eight hits and two walks over just 4 1/3 innings. It was his second loss in as many career starts against them.
The Cardinals hand the ball tonight to starter Lance Lynn, who has allowed just one earned run in four of his five starts this season and is coming off a tough-luck no-decision last time out.
Lynn struggled in a loss at Milwaukee on April 26 as he was drilled for six runs over five innings. However, the righty bounced back in a big way on Friday against Pittsburgh, holding the Pirates to a run on four hits and one walk over a season-high seven innings. He also struck out 10 batters and kept his club in a 2-1 win.
Lynn is 1-2 with a 3.07 ERA on the season and 6-4 with a 3.03 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) lifetime versus the Cubs. That includes a 2-0 setback in Chicago on April 8, with Lynn giving up both runs -- one earned -- over six innings with nine strikeouts.
Lynn hopes to pitch the Cardinals to a ninth win in a row tonight and extend the club's best start in modern franchise history. St. Louis kept its winning streak intact with a 7-4 win last night.
Matt Carpenter hit a three-run homer and drove in four, while Kolten Wong had three hits, an RBI and two runs scored. Yadier Molina added an RBI to help St. Louis win eight in a row for the first time since July 11-21, 2010.
The Cardinals are 20-6 on the season, including a 13-2 record at home.
Reliever Mitch Harris made a bit of history last night as picked up the first win of his career for a scoreless inning of relief. Lieutenant Harris became the first graduate of the United States Naval Academy to earn a major league victory.
"It's hard to describe it, but the way we've been able to win games, it's been a different guy every night," said Carpenter.
Starlin Castro drove in two runs while Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler each had an RBI for the Cubs, who have lost their last four.
Kyle Hendricks allowed four runs on six hits over five innings, while Edwin Jackson was handed the loss for giving up two runs in the sixth.
"Hitting guys, walking guys, it's not what I do," said Hendricks. "Whatever it is, it's not there right now and I've got to do something to change things up."
The Cubs and Cardinals split a weather-shortened two-game set in Chicago to begin the season. St. Louis won six of 10 at home versus the Cubs last season.