Friday, April 11, 2014
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Preview: Cubs At Cardinals

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[April 11, 2014]  The St. Louis Cardinals on Friday continue a stretch of 15 contests against Central Division foes to start the season when they begin a three-game series with the visiting Chicago Cubs. St. Louis (5-4), which won 12 of the 19 meetings with Chicago in 2013, had Thursday off after completing its second three-game series victory over Cincinnati this season. The Cardinals kick off a run of 20 games in 20 days by sending Joe Kelly — a workmanlike winner in his first start of 2014 — to the mound.

Jeff Samardzija takes the ball for the Cubs (3-6), who haven't scored in his first two outings. "I see these guys work every day and I know what they're doing," Samardzija told reporters about the Cubs' hitters. "If it was a different situation and I thought they were lazy, it'd be different. Guys come to work every day and do everything they can. It's early in the season and we'll keep going, keep pushing and figure this out." The Cubs, though, have scored 25 runs in four games between Samardzija starts, including Thursday's 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh when the Pirates erased a 4-0 lead with five runs in the seventh to hand Chicago its seventh straight series loss.

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago Plus, FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jeff Samardzija (0-1, 1.29 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Joe Kelly (1-0, 1.69)

Samardzija received a no-decision in Chicago's 1-0 loss in 10 innings at Pittsburgh on March 31 and was the loser in a 2-0 setback versus Philadelphia on Saturday as he yielded 11 hits and struck out 11 in the two outings covering 14 innings. The 29-year-old Merrillville, Ind., native is 4-3 with a 4.47 ERA in 18 appearances (seven starts) against St. Louis while splitting a pair of starts in 2013. Yadier Molina and Jon Jay are a combined 17-for-35, but with only four RBIs against Samardzija.

Kelly yielded one run, six hits, walked four and struck out four in 5 1/3 innings of St. Louis' 6-1 victory at Pittsburgh on Saturday. The 24-year-old Anaheim, Calif., native earned the No. 5 spot in spring training and has impressed manager Mike Matheny. "We think he's made some huge strides, just as far as his philosophy on pitching," Matheny told reporters. "... I think he's kind of found that rhythm to where he knows he has the stuff to get the strikeout, and he's also capable of getting those quick outs.'' Kelly is 3-2 with a 2.61 ERA in seven games (four starts) against the Cubs while dominating Anthony Rizzo (1-for-13, three strikeouts).

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  1. Chicago 2B Emilio Bonifacio went 0-for-4 on Thursday, dropping his average from .500 to .452.

  2. St. Louis Yadier Molina has three of the Cardinals six home runs and also leads the team with seven RBIs.

  3. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo is 11-for-18 in his last five games after going 2-for-17 in his first four contests.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 1, Cubs 0

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