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National League Preview from The Sports Network

Friday, July 25 (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Cardinals (54-47) at Chicago Cubs (41-59), 4:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: St. Louis - Joe Kelly (2-1, 2,84) Chicago - Travis Wood (7-9, 5.12)

( - The St. Louis Cardinals hope to avoid a fourth straight loss on Friday when they open a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

St. Louis found itself tied with Milwaukee atop the National League Central standings at the beginning of the week, but heads into the weekend trailing the Brewers by three games after a two-game sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, including a 3-0 setback on Wednesday.

"The last two days (Tampa Bay) has just had our number," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

Matheny is hoping right-hander Joe Kelly can continue to pitch well in Friday's opener. Kelly was terrific on Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, as he allowed just a run and four hits in seven innings to improve to 2-1, while lowering his ERA to 2.84.

"It's a good start," Kelly said. "I'm going to keep doing [the different motion] and do it as much as I can to just try and mix up pitches and hide stuff better."

Kelly gave up just an unearned run over six innings of a no-decision against the Cubs back on April 11. He is 3-2 in eight games (5 starts) against them with a 2.19 ERA.

Chicago, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Travis Wood, who has lost his last three starts. Wood dropped his fourth straight decision on Saturday in Arizona, as he surrendered seven runs (5 earned) in 5 1/3 innings to fall to 7-9 on the year to go along with a 5.12 ERA.

Wood hasn't won since June 15 and over his last six starts, he owns a 6.82 ERA and 1.96 WHIP while allowing opponents a .328 average.

"It's not like I'm sailing balls all over the place, I'm just missing," Wood said after his last start. "I really want to go out and give seven, eight innings as strong as I can every time, and so far it hasn't been happening. Like I said, I promise we'll get there."

Wood has faced the Cardinals 13 times and is 5-5 against them with a 4.99 ERA.

Chicago enters this series having lost seven of eight after falling in the final two games of its three-game series with the San Diego Padres, including an ugly 13-3 loss on Thursday.

"It seems that anything that could go wrong has gone wrong over the past couple of weeks," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said.

St. Louis has won five of its nine meetings with the Cubs this season.

07/25 10:37:48 ET