Wednesday, May 14, 2014
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Preview: Cubs At Cardinals

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[May 14, 2014]  From an offensive explosion by the Chicago Cubs to a game-ending hit-by-pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals, the first half of the National League Central rivals' four-game series has showcased the unlikely. Right-handers Jason Hammel and Michael Wacha square off in the third act Wednesday at Busch Stadium. The season series is tied at four games apiece and three of the games have been decided by a run.

The Cardinals won the latest nail-biter when Justin Grimm hit rookie Greg Garcia with a pitch to force home the winning run in the 12th inning of a 4-3 St. Louis victory Tuesday. That came a night after the Cubs racked up season highs for runs (17) and hits (20) in a series-opening rout. Hammel turned in a quality start in a no-decision against the Cardinals earlier this month, but St. Louis' middle infielders have hit him well - shortstop Jhonny Peralta is 8-for-17 with two homers and eight RBIs and second baseman Mark Ellis is 5-for-7 with a pair of doubles against the 31-year-old.

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

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.45 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (2-3, 2.85)

Hammel has recorded quality starts in all seven of his outings in his first season with the Cubs, and has gone seven innings in five of them. He is winless in his last two starts but pitched well enough to win last time out, giving up two runs over seven innings in a no-decision at Atlanta. Hammel is 1-1 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts against St. Louis.

Wacha hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his eight starts in 2014, but is winless in his last five outings. The 22-year-old has lost his last three decisions, including a defeat against the Cubs on May 3, and received a no-decision after giving up three runs over seven innings in a 6-4 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday. Wacha is 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA in four games (three starts) against Chicago.

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1. St. Louis LF Matt Holliday has reached base in all 14 home games this season.

2. Cubs OF Junior Lake, who had six RBIs Monday but went 1-for-5 Tuesday, is 5-for-8 with a homer against Wacha.

3. Cardinals RF Allen Craig has hit safely in 12 of his last 15 games, going 18-for-61 over that span to raise his average from .170 to .221.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 5, Cubs 3

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