Chicago Cubs (66-95) at St. Louis Cardinals (96-65)
Sunday, September 29 - 2:15 PM EST
Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
With one more win over the visiting Chicago Cubs on Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals can ensure home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. The Cardinals have a one-game lead over Atlanta but must maintain that cushion Sunday to lock up the top seed, as the Braves hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. The top seed will face Cincinnati or Pittsburgh in the NL Division Series, while the second seed will take on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
St. Louis has won the first two games of the series by a combined score of 13-2 and leads the season series 11-7. The season comes to a merciful close Sunday for the Cubs, who have lost five of their last six and will finish with the second-worst record in the National League. The Cardinals have shuffled the rotation to give veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook the start, though he is not stretched out and will be followed by right-hander Joe Kelly.
TV: 2:15 p.m. ET, CSN Chicago, FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.33 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Jake Westbrook (7-8, 4.67)
Samardzija gets one last chance to match his season-high win total set last season. The 28-year-old is winless in his last five outings but has recorded two straight quality starts after holding Pittsburgh to one run over six innings last time out. Samardzija is 4-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 17 games (six starts) against St. Louis and pitched into the ninth in a win in the only meeting this year.
Westbrook gets the courtesy start on his 36th birthday for his first action since Sept. 6, and he hasn't won since July 24 against Philadelphia. He likely won't have a spot on the postseason roster, so this could be his swan song with the club. Westbrook is 6-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 starts against the Cubs, including a 1-2 mark in four meetings this season.
1. Cardinals CF Jon Jay is riding a career-best 13-game hitting streak and is 6-for-15 against Samardzija.
2. Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo, who broke up the shutout with a ninth-inning home run Saturday, is 7-for-13 with a pair of doubles versus Westbrook.
3. St. Louis C Yadier Molina is hitting .460 with three home runs an 16 RBIs in 14 games against the Cubs this season.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 6, Cubs 4