As a catcher, Welington Castillo works hard to prepare for every new opponent. When facing the Cardinals, however, the Cubs backstop says he needs to be a bit more studious than usual.
"If we make mistakes, they hit the mistakes," Castillo said. "That's what makes them good. They don't miss too many mistakes. They take advantage of every mistake we make. They play the game the right way -- I'm not saying we don't. I agree with [Jeff] Samardzija. It's hard to get through that lineup. Even the guys who come off the bench, they take advantage of every mistake."
Looking for a split in the finale of a four-game series on Thursday, it's Scott Feldman (6-5, 3.05 ERA) facing the Cards, who boast the Majors' best record and the National League's top offense in terms of runs and runs per game.
The right-hander tossed one of his best outings of the season against the Mets his last time out, going seven innings and allowing just one run on two hits to earn the victory. After a bit of a slow start, Feldman has pitched into the sixth in each of his past 10 starts.
While the Cubs certainly respect the Cardinals, Castillo was quick to point out that it doesn't mean they're tentative when it comes to playing their first-place arch-nemesis.
"We can't play them with any fear," Castillo said. "We just have to go and play and make our pitches."
Opposite Feldman will be right-hander Lance Lynn, who allowed a career-high seven runs against the Marlins on Saturday in his last outing. Still, Lynn earned a victory in the game and improved his record to 9-1 on the season to go with his 3.56 ERA.
Lynn has won eight straight decisions at Busch Stadium, and he is 5-0 with a 2.54 ERA at home this year. The Cardinals have consistently provided him with solid support. His 6.9 runs of support per game are the most for any St. Louis starter this season.
The Cardinals' offense gets a boost with the return of David Freese after he received a night off Wednesday. Freese is batting .359 in June and has hits in 24 of his past 26 games.
Cubs: No hard feelings from slide
Shane Robinson's slide that resulted in a game-ending interference call Tuesday left no hard feelings in the Cubs clubhouse on Wednesday.
"I hope our players would do the same thing in the same situation," manager Dale Sveum said. "You know the game's over. He just slid too far away from the bag."
After the game Tuesday, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro said: "I couldn't throw the ball because he tried to kill me."
Cardinals: MVP case for Molina
Yadier Molina's solid play on both sides of the ball has the catcher squarely in the early NL MVP Award discussion.
"He's turned himself into one of the better hitters in the game," Sveum said. "The adjustments you've seen Molina make, whether it's different stances, different approaches and all that -- that's what it takes sometimes. That's why Molina is, if not right now, the MVP of the league. Each year, he gets better and better as a hitter."
Molina finished fourth in the NL voting last season and is hitting .365 this year with 41 RBIs. He launched a go-ahead two-run homer Wednesday night, and the Cards never looked back.
• Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano have matching .375 lifetime batting averages against Lynn. Darwin Barney, meanwhile, has just one hit in 12 at-bats against the right-hander.
• The Cubs have a winning record against teams outside their division this year at 20-18. They're just 9-23 against NL Central clubs, the worst record by any team against its own division.
• Cardinals utility man Ty Wigginton has seven hits in 14 lifetime at-bats against Feldman.