The St. Louis Cardinals have dominated the National League Central rival Chicago Cubs in recent years, and they’ll try to wrap up a three-game sweep of their division foe Sunday. The host Cardinals rallied to win in extra innings on Friday and routed the Cubs 8-1 on Saturday to move to the brink of their first series sweep of Chicago since the final weekend of the 2013 campaign.
The Cardinals have won five straight and 12 of 15 to pad baseball’s best record, while the reeling Cubs have dropped four straight while scoring a total of six runs in their past five contests. St. Louis right-hander Carlos Martinez makes his first home start since May 31 after four straight road outings; he is 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA in six starts at Busch Stadium this season. After leaning on the bullpen for 4 2/3 innings of work Saturday, the Cubs need a strong outing from right-hander Jason Hammel. The veteran Hammel will have to contend with a hot-hitting Cardinals lineup led by second baseman Kolten Wong, who has recorded four straight multi-hit games.
TV: 8:05 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Cardinals opened as -120 home favorites, but have been bet up to -129. The total has held steady at 7.0 runs.
Cubs – SP T. Wada (day-to-day, shoulder), RP N. Ramirez (15-day DL, shoulder), RP Z. Rosscup (15-day DL, shoulder), 2B T. La Stella (15-day DL, ribs), RF J. Soler (Late June, ankle), 3B M. Olt (60-day DL, forearm), RP J. Turner (Early June, shouder).
Cardinals – SP J. Garcia (day-to-day, groin), LF M. Holliday (15-day DL, quad), RP J. Walden (Early June, shoulder), SP A. Wainwright (60-day DL, achilles), 1B M. Adams (60-day DL, quad).
WEATHER REPORT: There is a 21 percent chance of rain and a chance of thunderstorms around first pitch. There will also be a slight seven mile per hour wind blowing out to left field.
HOT FAN WAR:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.65 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Carlos Martinez (8-3, 2.89)
Hammel is 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA over his last five starts and is coming off a dominant outing against the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he allowed two hits and struck out six in a 7 2/3 scoreless frames. The 32-year-old continues to pile up strikeouts at a career-best clip and has 92 in 91 2/3 innings compared to only 16 walks. Hammel is 1-2 with a 6.10 ERA in four starts against the Cardinals.
Martinez continued his breakout campaign Tuesday at Miami, striking out nine and limiting the Marlins to three runs over seven innings to earn his third win this month. The 23-year-old has pitched into the seventh in seven straight outings and has struck out eight or more in four of his last six starts. One of Martinez’s few poor outings this season came against the Cubs on May 4, when he allowed seven runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision.
* Cubs are 1-5 in the last six meetings.
* Over is 15-4-2 in the last 21 meetings in St. Louis.
* Cardinals are 43-10 in their last 53 home games.
* Under is 6-1-1 in the Cubs last eight games overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: As of Sunday morning, 64.92 percent of wagers are backing the Cardinals, who are currently at -129.