Dakota Hudson and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals look to continue streaking when they play game three of their four-game series against the host Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
The Cardinals won their second straight against the Cubs — and their third consecutive game overall — with a 2-1 victory on Friday.
The Cubs trail the Cardinals by five games in the National League Central — though the teams do meet five more times – and the Milwaukee Brewers by two games for the second NL wild card.
Right-hander Hudson (16-7, 3.35 ERA) opposes left-hander Jose Quintana (13-8, 4.37) in Saturday’s matinee.
Hudson is 6-1 with a 1.59 ERA over his last seven starts and has allowed eight earned runs over 45 1/3 innings during that stretch. Last time out, he gave up two runs on five hits and two walks over seven innings of a win against the Nationals.
“I didn’t think I had very much,” Hudson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “The ball was moving a lot, but I didn’t have the best command with it and had to battle with what I had.”
Hudson will be making his first career start against the Cubs after two relief appearances.
Meanwhile, Quintana and the Cubs will be looking to turn things around.
The Cubs have lost four straight and in his last start, Quintana allowed five runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work against the Pirates. Over his last three starts, he’s allowed 13 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.
Quintana is 5-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 10 career starts against the Cardinals. This year, he’s 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two starts against them.
Quintana was originally scheduled to start Friday’s game but was moved back a day when Cole Hamels was scratched from his scheduled Saturday start.
Yadier Molina had three hits including a two-run single and the Cardinals held on to defeat the Cubs 2-1 on Friday.
Ryan Helsley (2-0) picked up the win in relief as the St. Louis bullpen turned in five scoreless innings. Carlos Martinez got the final two outs for his 22nd save.
“We’re playing good baseball right now,” Molina told MLB.com. “We’re winning games; that’s what matters right now.”
Molina had three of the four St. Louis hits on Friday.
“(Molina is) a force,” reliever John Brebbia told MLB.com. “When he goes, on defense and on offense, I think that we can go. To have him hitting the way he is, to have him catching the way he is, is always special.”
The fading Cubs will need to turn their attention to their wild-card foes if they can’t turn this series around.
“We are running out of time,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “And to catch (St. Louis) is becoming more difficult, but there’s still a solid opportunity to be a playoff team. But you’ve got to keep playing the game as though you’re going to catch St. Louis. You’ve got to go out there with that attitude.”
Chicago’s chances would improve if they got some timely hitting. On Friday, the Cubs went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and hit into three double plays.
After an impressive stretch at the plate, they’ve cooled, scoring just nine runs over their past four games.
“It’s weird,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo told MLB.com of the lineup’s recent cold spell.
–Field Level Media