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 Battle of the Windy City continues this weekend with a three-game interleague series between the White Sox and Cubs at historic Wrigley Field

Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs

Cubs SP Randy Wells is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two career starts versus the White Sox

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The New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs have split the first two games of their interleague series heading into Sunday night’s finale at Wrigley Field

New York Yankees at Chicago Cubs

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The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals continue their rivalry with the second game of a weekend series at Busch Stadium

Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis is 21-22 all-time against the Chicago Cubs at the new Busch Stadium

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The Reds must remain focused on the task at hand, as they may look ahead to next week’s series against the Cardinals.

Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati has turned the tide against the Cubs this season, blanking them 3-0 at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.  The Reds are now 8-3 against them this season, after tallying a disappointing 5-10 mark in 2009.  At 62-48, the club is a season-high 14 games over .500 after winning five of their past six games, including a 4-1 mark on this road trip.  The team must remain focused over the next two games and not look ahead to a three-game series against the Cardinals starting Monday.  “I can’t put too much importance on St. Louis because they’re not here yet,” manager Dusty Baker said.  “You have to win games now before we get there.”  The pitching staff has posted a 3.01 ERA since June 17, which is the second-best mark in the majors over that span, behind only the White Sox (2.87).  Cincinnati is 20-18 in day games this season (-50) and the total is 11-22 O/U in those contests.  The Reds are also 3-4 this season (-170) and 11-14 the last three years after shutting out an opponent (-140).

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The Cubs are hoping to get the offense back on track in the rubber game of the series against NL Central rival Houston.

Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros

Chicago continued to offer little to no run support for starting pitcher Ted Lilly on Tuesday night, as he’s received the lowest run support of any hurler in the Major Leagues.  Coming into last night’s 6-1 loss against the Astros at Minute Maid Park, he had received just 2.43 runs of support per start.  “Lilly’s been a model of consistency,” manager Lou Piniella said.  “He gives you a very reasonable chance of winning a baseball game when he goes out there.”  The Cubs had averaged 5.93 runs per game in their last 14 contests before being shutout in the second game of this series and the club’s .300 average since July 9, was by far the highest in the National League over that span.  Chicago is 24-27 in day games this season (-1,100) and the total is 23-25 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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The Windy City is still celebrating a Stanley Cup victory, but the focus shifts to Wrigley Field and the return of interleague play.

Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs

The Chicago White Sox broke through and won back-to-back games against the Tigers, after going 4-20 this season in games following a victory.  The lineup has also homered in 13 of its last 14 games and rank third in the American League with 70.  The buzz for this series is tempered compared to previous season, mainly due to the poor performance of both teams and the city celebrating a Stanley Cup victory.  Manager Ozzie Guillen summed it up in a direct way by saying, “Very bad teams and the Blackhawks.”  The White Sox are 2-1 in interleague play thus far in 2010 (+100) and have gone 26-13 over the last three years (+1,320)

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Saturday MLB Handicapper Report – (Complete)

Baltimore Orioles

  • Baltimore would capture its first road series victory of the year with a win today or tomorrow.  The Orioles are 0-9-1 in road series since September 11-13, 2009.
  • The Orioles are now 13-12 in the all-time series against Washington.  They won the season series in 2009, 4-2, taking two of three in D.C.
  • OF Adam Jones has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, going 18-for-53 and raising his average from .218 to .254.
  • Baltimore is 10-20 this year against right-handed starters (-710).  The team has compiled a .257 batting average against righties while scoring 3.7 runs per game.
  • Pitching staff has allowed at least one run in the eighth inning or later in 24 of their 43 games this season.  The Orioles have allowed the tying or go-ahead run to score in the eighth inning or later 10 times.
  • SP Brad Bergesen has allowed just 22 runners in 19.1 innings in his last three starts, compared to 27 runners in 10.1 innings of work in his first three starts of the season.
  • Bergesen is just 1-5 with a 4.45 ERA in his career away from Camden Yards.

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