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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, April 23rd (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Cardinals (11-5) at Chicago Cubs (4-12), 8:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: St. Louis - Jaime Garcia (2-0, 3.06) Chicago - Matt Garza (1-1, 3.66)

(Sports Network) - Lefty Jaime Garcia makes his sixth career appearance against Chicago tonight when the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Cubs for the first of three games at Wrigley Field.

The 25-year-old has won two of three decisions in the previous meetings with Chicago, allowing nine runs on 29 hits in 28 1/3 innings while walking five batters and striking out 18.

A 13-game winner in each of the past two seasons, he's pitched well in all three outings thus far in 2012 - winning twice while surrendering 23 hits and six runs in 17 2/3 innings.

The Cardinals are 2-1 in the games he's pitched.

St. Louis got another mound gem in Sunday's finale against Pittsburgh, clinching the series when Kyle Lohse tossed seven superb innings and the Cardinals beat the Pirates, 5-1, at PNC Park.

Lohse (3-0) gave up just one run on six hits without walking a batter while striking out five for the Cardinals, who took two of three games in the series.

Lohse improved to 4-1 in his career in Pittsburgh and the Cardinals are 4-0 in his starts this season while outscoring opponents 14-4.

"I feel like this is what I'm capable of doing, going out there and keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate and keeping it down," Lohse said. "I feel like I can be successful every time out."

Mitchell Boggs tossed a perfect eighth inning and Kyle McClellan closed it out in the ninth.

David Freese had a two-run single, Rafael Furcal went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored and Matt Holliday also knocked in a run.

In Chicago, Johnny Cueto tossed 6 1/3 innings and allowed just one earned run as the Cincinnati Reds took a 4-3 decision over the Cubs in the rubber match of a three-game set Sunday.

Rodrigo Lopez (0-1) took the loss, allowing two unearned runs in one-third of an inning in relief of starter Randy Wells, who surrendered two earned runs on six hits and five walks over five innings.

Bryan LaHair knocked in a run and Starlin Castro finished with two hits and two runs scored. The Cubs have lost seven of their last eight.

They send hard-throwing California-born righty Matt Garza to begin the series against the Cardinals, against whom Garza is 2-1 in four career starts with a 5.32 earned run average in 22 innings.

He's coming off a 9-1 loss at Miami in his most recent outing on April 18, when he was touched for six runs on seven hits in five innings with seven strikeouts.

One start earlier, he came within an out of a complete game while allowing three hits in an 8-0 defeat of Milwaukee on April 12.

In 19 2/3 overall innings this month, he's allowed eight runs on 15 hits with six walks and 21 strikeouts.

The Cardinals took two of three from the Cubs in St. Louis in mid-April and have won 11 of the past 16 meetings overall.

04/23 10:50:58 ET