September 28, 2017 / 2:30 AM / 25 days ago

Preview: Cubs at Cardinals

The Chicago Cubs will take a second crack at clinching their second straight National League Central title when they play the third contest in a four-game road series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. The Cubs need one win or one Milwaukee loss to wrap up the division, while the Cardinals are fighting to stay afloat in the NL wild-card race.

The Cardinals held on for an 8-7 win Tuesday to even the series at a game apiece and remain 2 1/2 games behind Colorado for the final playoff spot. Chicago’s magic number to clinch the division remained at one with the Cubs’ loss and the Brewers’ 7-6 win over Cincinnati. The loss was only the Cubs’ third in their last 14 games and their fifth in 17 meetings with the Cardinals in 2017. Right-hander John Lackey will try to pitch the Cubs to the clincher in his former home park of Busch Stadium, where he is 13-4 with a 2.10 ERA in 25 career starts.

TV: 7:08 p.m. ET, ESPN, CSN Chicago, FSN Midwest (St. Louis)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH John Lackey (11-11, 4.67 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Michael Wacha (12-8, 4.00)

Lackey is winless in his last three starts and has failed to get through five innings in his last two outings. The 38-year-old gave up two homers and left without recording an out in the fifth inning of a no-decision at Milwaukee on Friday, marking his shortest outing of the season. Lackey is 2-1 with a 2.64 ERA in seven starts against the Cardinals.

Wacha is 3-1 with a 2.64 ERA over his last five starts with the only loss coming against the Cubs on Sept. 16. The 26-year-old didn’t get a decision last time out, as he allowed two runs and three hits over five innings in a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh on Friday. Wacha is 4-6 with a 6.32 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) against the Cubs.

WALK-OFFS

1. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo is 17-for-36 with three home runs against Wacha.

2. St. Louis OF Randal Grichuk has hit six home runs against the Cubs this season, his most against any opponent and the most by an opposing player against Chicago.

3. Cardinals OF Tommy Pham (bruised left side) and Cubs OF Albert Almora Jr. (bruised right shoulder) left Tuesday’s game.

PREDICTION: Cardinals 6, Cubs 4

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