The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals continue a three-game series in the National League Central Saturday afternoon at Busch Stadium

Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols collected his 2000th career hit last night

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The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers close out a three-game series in the NL Central Thursday afternoon at Miller Park

Chicago Cubs at Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are 22-17 versus NL Central opponents this year

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The Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs open up a three-game National League series Monday night at historic Wrigley Field

Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs

Philadelphia has won 10-straight games with SP Roy Halladay on the hill

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The San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs are set to play the first game of a scheduled doubleheader Tuesday at Wrigley Field

San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are 21-34 versus right-handed starters this season

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The Cubs aim to break a long-standing series losing streak against divisional opponents, but it will be tough against their long-time rivals.

St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

St. Louis suffered a 5-0 road loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon, which was the first time the club had been shut out in back-to-back games since September 1995.  It marked the first time in his 2,364 games as Cardinals manager that Tony LaRussa’s team had been blanked in back-to-back games.  Before this recent stretch, St. Louis had won eight straight games and outscored opponents 46-17 over that span, but have now been held scoreless in 20 consecutive innings since.  The team has bounced back nicely after suffering a loss, going 26-16 on the year (+440), but it’s important to note they are just 3-5 after getting shut out (-260).  The Cardinals are 20-16 in day games this season (-210) and the total is 15-19 O/U in those contests.

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The Cubs have picked up the first two games of the series and are after more, but the road team has other ideas.

Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago Cubs

Philadelphia has dropped the first two games of this four-game series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, but will now turn to its pair of aces over the weekend.  “We need to win tomorrow,” manager Charlie Manuel said.  “We’ll work on Sunday when we get there.”  The Phillies are now a game under .500 in July (6-7, -280), after going 20-7 during the month last season.  The club is still 17-10 against NL Central teams this season, which is similar to its 23-16 mark against the division in 2009.  First baseman Ryan Howard has produced three home runs and six RBIs in the first two games of this series and 20 homers on the season.  Don’t expect such a low-scoring game on Saturday, with the team having a 17-11 O/U mark in daytime games.

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Both teams may show impatience at the plate with the All-Star break looming.

Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

Chicago has won two of the first three games on its current road trip, averaging 6.5 runs in the process.  The Cubs entered the game ranked 14th in the National League in runs scored and had scored three or fewer runs in 14 of their last 20 games before Saturday’s 7-3 victory.  “Finally,” said third baseman Aramis Ramirez.  “We just have to come back after the break and keep doing what we’re doing now.”  Ramirez has posted five consecutive multi-hit games to raise his season average from .178 to .209.  The club is 11-4 against NL West competition this season, while going 28-45 against all other teams.  Chicago has had a difficult time in producing winning streaks this season, posting a 14-24 record after a win (-1,510).

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