(Sports Network) - Veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook makes his second career start against the Chicago Cubs when the St. Louis Cardinals head to Wrigley Field today for the finale of a three-game weekend series.
Acquired from Cleveland at the trade deadline in late July, the soon-to-be 33- year-old was expected to help the Cardinals make a run at a National League Central title. Instead, he's won just twice in 10 starts as St. Louis has plummeted to the brink of playoff elimination.
The Cardinals dropped a 7-3 decision in Saturday's second game to remain six games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds, who lost, 4-3, at San Diego. The Reds' magic number entering today is two, meaning any combination of two Cincinnati wins or St. Louis losses will end the race.
Chris Carpenter (15-9) suffered the loss after yielding five runs on seven hits and four walks with only one strikeout over four frames in his second- shortest start of the year for the Cardinals, who have lost four of their last six.
Westbrook, who won double-digit games with the Indians three straight times between 2004 and 2006, was limited by injuries to just seven wins in 2007-08 and did not pitch in the majors last season.
He was 6-7 with Cleveland in 21 starts before the deal and has allowed 61 hits and 26 runs in 62 innings with the Cardinals.
Westbrook beat the Cubs, 6-3, for his first win with St. Louis on Aug. 13, allowing six hits and two runs with no walks and a strikeout over six innings.
On the mound for Chicago is third-year right-hander Jeff Samardzija, a former Notre Dame football standout who's picked up wins in two straight starts.
The 25-year-old Indiana native was 0-1 with an 18.90 earned run average in four relief appearances in April, then returned from the minor leagues in September and has since allowed nine hits and three runs in 11 2/3 innings while beating St. Louis and Florida.
In the Sept. 13 matchup with the Cardinals, the 6-foot-5, 225-pounder pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed six hits and four walks while walking one.
This is his initial start of 2010 at Wrigley Field.
The Cardinals have lost nine of 14 matchups with the Cubs this year.