Lynn tries to continue mastery of Cubs in opener at Wrigley

Lance Lynn will attempt to remain unbeaten against the Chicago Cubs this season when the big right-hander takes to the hill for the reigning world champion St. Louis Cardinals in the opener of a three-game set at Wrigley Field.

Lynn, who is a solid 12-4 on the season, is 3-0 with a minuscule 0.93 ERA along with 17 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings over three starts against the Cubs this season. Another victory Friday afternoon would give Lynn an NL best-tying 13th victory.

He is a perfect 2-0 in three starts during July and is coming off six shutout innings in his last start, also versus Chicago, a 7-0 Cards win last Sunday.

"Before the All-Star break, I had those few starts that were pretty miserable, and it upset me," Lynn said. "I'm pitching with a little chip on my shoulder, trying to get as many outs as I can before they come get me."

Travis Wood will again counter Lynn for the Cubs on the heels of being touched for seven runs on nine hits over six innings last weekend.

The Cardinals are coming off an impressive 6-1 homestand, finishing things by taking three of four from the Los Angeles Dodgers to climb within 5 1/2 games of Cincinnati in the NL Central

David Freese helped cap the residency in winning fashion by tallying three hits, two RBI and a pair of runs scored, while Matt Holliday added two hits, including a solo homer, to go with two runs scored on Thursday as St. Louis downed the Dodgers, 7-4.

Freese, who left the contest in the sixth due to cramping in his right calf, is 16-for-28 during a nine-game hitting streak.

Matt Carpenter registered three hits and an RBI against LA, Tony Cruz recorded two hits and a pair of RBI and Allen Craig had two hits, two runs scored and an RBI for St. Louis, which banged out a season-high 18 hits and took the last three games of the set.

"We're getting timely hits," Freese said. "You get timely hits and you add pitching and defense, that's a recipe for success."

The Cubs, meanwhile, are well off the pace, 17 1/2 behind the Reds in the Central but are coming off an impressive series in Pittsburgh in which they took two of three.

The Pirates salvaged the finale on Wednesday when Garrett Jones' RBI double in the sixth inning proved to be the difference in a 3-2 win.

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer and knocked in both of Chicago's runs. Ryan Dempster (5-5), a hot topic of trade rumors, allowed three runs on five hits over six innings to take the loss.

"I had a job to do today and that's really important to me so I had to try to separate the two things," Dempster said. "I have tonight and an off-day (Thursday) to look at a couple different things and see what the possibilities are."

The Cardinals outscored the Cubs 23-1 in sweeping last weekend's three-game series and are 7-4 against Chicago this season.