MLB: Cubs, Cardinals gear up for rubber match of 5-game set

Marcus Stroman has thrown the ball quite well for the Chicago Cubs of late.

However, the right-hander will hope for a better performance than the last time he faced the St. Louis Cardinals in Chicago when he leads the Cubs in the rubber match of a five-game series on Thursday.

Stroman (3-5, 3.83 ERA) is 1-0 with a 2.23 ERA in eight starts since missing more than a month with a shoulder issue. Most recently, he faced the visiting Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday and gave up two runs on just two hits with four walks over a season-high 7 2/3 innings. He struck out five.

“When you see him locked in like that, he was feeling good,” Chicago manager David Ross said. “That’s as good as I’ve seen him. The ball was moving all over the place.”

However, on June 3, the Cardinals rolled to a 14-5 victory over Stroman and the host Cubs. St. Louis recorded nine runs and 10 hits in four innings against Stroman — seven coming on three-run homers from Nolan Gorman and Paul Goldschmidt and a solo shot from Corey Dickerson.

Gorman and Goldschmidt each tagged Stroman for a solo homer at St. Louis on Aug. 4, but those didn’t come until a three-run seventh after he tossed six shutout innings during Chicago’s 4-3 loss.

In his career, Stroman is 1-2 with a 5.53 ERA in five starts against the Cardinals.

The Cubs earned a 7-1 win on Wednesday, leveling the extended series at two victories apiece. Chicago posted its 13th win in 20 games while improving to 19-13 since the All-Star break.

Dickerson, who has recorded hits in each of his past eight at-bats spanning two games, is batting .415 (17-for-41) with three homers and five doubles vs. Stroman. Goldschmidt is 6-for-13 with three homers and Albert Pujols 5-for-14 against the righty.

Pujols, likely playing his final game at Wrigley Field on Thursday with retirement looming, is batting .487 (19-for-39) over his past 13 games.

Though the Cardinals have a 5 1/2-game lead in the National League Central and are 20-6 since July 27, they have dropped two of three after winning a season-high eight in a row. Aside from a 13-3 victory in the nightcap of the Tuesday doubleheader, St. Louis has totaled two runs in the other three games of the series.

“You keep moving,” Cardinals coach Oliver Marmol said. “It happens.”

Despite St. Louis’ inconsistent offense during the series, its starting pitchers have fared relatively well of late, producing a 2.21 ERA over the past 15 games.

The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson (6-6, 4.33 ERA) is 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA in seven career games against the Cubs, including four starts, but Thursday will be the first time he faces them in 2022. He is 0-1 with a 5.55 ERA in his past five starts overall.

The right-hander allowed four runs, five hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings of the Cardinals’ 16-7 rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday in Phoenix. Hudson’s most recent winning decision came on June 28.

Chicago’s Nico Hoerner, who is 0-for-5 with two strikeouts against Hudson, snapped an 0-for-25 rut with three hits on Wednesday. It was his fourth three-hit game this month.

–Field Level Media

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