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Preview: Cubs (78-57) at Cardinals (87-49)

Game: 1
Venue: Busch Stadium
Date: September 07, 2015 2:15 PM EDT

Winning in St. Louis may not be enough to catch the NL Central-leading Cardinals, but Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows the value of road victories during a playoff push.

The Cubs will try to win a series in St. Louis for the first time in two years, while the Cardinals look to separate from the pack in Monday’s series opener at Busch Stadium.

The Cubs (78-57), who have won three straight and sit 7 1/2 games ahead of Washington for the NL’s second wild-card spot, are 12-32 in St. Louis since the beginning of 2011 and have lost six of seven there this season.

Most teams haven’t been playing well this year at Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals have built a major league-best 49-22 record. The Cubs are one of the few clubs planning to make a postseason run, and it will likely need to go through St. Louis.

“I’ve been through this before, when you’re playing really good teams like that, you eventually have to beat them in their own ballpark,” Maddon told MLB’s official website. “If we grab a lead, we gotta learn how to hold onto it there. That’s the next level mentally for us.”

Chicago lost three of four at Busch from May 4-7 and was swept there June 26-28. The club hasn’t won a series there since taking two of three from Aug. 9-11, 2013.

The Cubs’ only win in St. Louis this year came against Lance Lynn in a 6-5 victory after they shelled the right-hander for eight hits and five runs over six innings.

Lynn (11-8, 2.80 ERA) is coming off a mild right ankle sprain that forced him to miss his previous scheduled start in Pittsburgh. He suffered the injury during a 6-0 victory in San Francisco on Aug. 29 that began a four-game win streak for St. Louis.

The Cardinals (87-49), though, have lost three of four, including two of three to second-place Pittsburgh over the weekend, to trim their division lead to 5 1/2 games.

“We’ve had a lot of close games and series that could go one way or the other,” manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s how it’s going to be as we continue to play them.”

Lynn is 6-4 with a 2.53 ERA at home this season and was on a roll before his injury, posting a 5-3 record and 2.63 ERA since July 17. He won his last two starts by giving up just two runs in 13 innings against Arizona and San Francisco.

Dan Haren will oppose Lynn looking to help the Cubs improve on a 35-29 road record, which is second-best in the NL behind St. Louis (38-27).

Haren (8-9, 3.89) has only recorded six innings in one of his six starts since coming to the Cubs in a deadline trade with Miami. The right-hander has a 1-2 record and 5.87 ERA with Chicago and has given up nine home runs.

Haren has allowed a homer in nine straight starts and has allowed a major league-leading 30 this season. He draws a favorable matchup in that category, though, as the Cardinals are tied for 11th in the NL with 113 home runs.

“I’m going to give up home runs,” Haren told MLB’s official website. “I pitch to contact.”

Kris Bryant’s 495-foot solo homer Sunday gave him 86 RBIs, tying Billy Williams (1961) and Geovany Soto (2008) for the Cubs’ rookie record. Bryant is hitting .346 with three home runs and nine RBIs in seven games since Aug. 30.