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STL@PIT: Lackey pitches seven innings of one-run ball

The Cardinals will attempt to maintain their grasp on one of the National League's precious two Wild Card spots when they wrap up their four-game series with the Cubs at Busch Stadium on Sunday.

St. Louis, which trails Milwaukee by just one game in the NL Central, will hand the ball to right-hander John Lackey, who has been a nice addition to the rotation since his acquisition at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Lackey has allowed two runs or fewer in four of his five starts with his new club and pitched seven innings in three of those games.

Last time out he settled in after allowing a second-inning homer to Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez to make it through seven innings.

"It sets the tone for our club," manager Mike Matheny said of another strong Lackey start. "I think when you have a pitcher like Lackey on the mound, you know he's going to keep us in the game. We just have to fight through it and figure out how to get something going."

Meanwhile, southpaw Travis Wood will be pitching for the Cubs, who don't seem terribly concerned with the prospect of fans jumping on their bandwagon following the arrivals of rookie sensations Javier Baez and Jorge Soler.

"I leave people to choose as they wish," Chicago manager Rick Renteria said. "These are signs that hopefully we'll chip away at some of the negativity. It's not like the Cubs haven't been in the postseason before. ... This is a pretty talented group of kids, and you all see it and can attest to that."

Cubs: Rizzo to sit out again on Sunday
First baseman Anthony Rizzo is not expected to return to action on Sunday because of lingering tightness in his lower back.

Rizzo has not played since he was pulled from Tuesday's game in Cincinnati. His back tightened up that day during a 50-minute rain delay.

"I'm going to shut it down for today and tomorrow, too," Rizzo said on Saturday. "I hit, I ran. Hitting felt all right. I took two rounds, let it calm down, hit again. Then I ran for the ultimate [test]. Jogging [is a problem].

"It felt a lot better today than yesterday, so I think if we let it rest, it'll be OK. I don't want to come back and then miss the rest of the season if I'm really bad. I can wait a couple of days to play the rest of the season."

So far the diagnosis is nothing more than tightness.

Cardinals: Club breaks out of slump Saturday night
St. Louis had been plodding along at the plate until pushing across three runs in the fifth inning of Saturday night's Game 2 win.

The Cardinals scored 13 runs in the victory, compared with only 10 in the previous six games combined. In the eighth inning alone, they scored nine.

St. Louis had also mustered just three runs in the first two games against the Cubs but knocked 13 in the doubleheader nightcap.

"What hasn't been there are the huge offensive numbers of production," Matheny said before the game. "That doesn't necessarily have to be tied in with spark and energy. Now all of a sudden, the offense takes off, to everybody on the outside, there is some sort of spark here.

"We have to go back to what the foundation is, and the foundation is how the guys prepare and how they have that attitude and that excitement level of where we are right now. That's been there, and you can really only see that from our vantage point."

Worth noting
• The Cardinals' Matt Adams is 1-for-12 during St. Louis' current homestand, and he has just one homer since July 19. Comments