MLB picks: Cardinals@ Cubs; 08:35 PM

Because he is going to pitch on Sunday night, Adam Wainwright will likely not play in the All-Star game. However, the kind of start he has gives the St. Louis Cardinals right-hander an opportunity to finish the first half as the NL's only 13-game winner. It has been almost three years when Wainwright will be seeking that victory and his first versus the Chicago Cubs. He will also try to cushion St. Louis’s wishes to regain the only possession of the NL Central lead before the break. The Cardinals (56-36) altered the pitching routine to offer Wainwright a pair of starts before the end of the first half. However, starting Sunday will after all limit him in Tuesday's Mid-summer classic at New York's Citi Field. The latest agreement (the collective bargaining agreement) offers the pitchers who start on Sunday an option of throwing in the All-Star game but that offer is valid only for one inning.

Wainwright who is 12-5 with 2.30 ERA has revealed that he would ideally like to give his spot to Cardinals closer Edward Mujica. In case he opts out, the choice of his replacement will be the responsibility of San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy. Meanwhile, Wainwright is going to try to break a tie with Jordan Zimmermann of Washington for the NL wins lead. He has matched Zimmermann's winning total by giving up one run through seven innings and striking out nine in a 9-5 victory against Houston on Tuesday. After going through Tommy John surgery in 2011, Wainwright is 0-2 with an ERA of 5.90 in five starts against the Cubs (42-50). He allowed four runs in seven innings in his single matchup in this season, a 4-2 loss on June 18. Wainwright's latest victory against Chicago was on Sept. 24, 2010. Regarding another win, it should be marked that Travis Wood who is 6-6 with an ERA of 2.69 will look to help prevent Wainwright from getting another.

Wood, the Cubs' only All-Star, is going to face the same decision as Wainwright. Wood will try to build on his first win since May 30 in his latest start of the first half. He has given up two runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 7-2 victory over the LA Angels on last Tuesday. He acquired six runs of support after accepting a combined nine in his earlier six outings. Wood has, however, split his pair of starts against the Cardinals in this season. He allowed one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 2-1 victory on May 7, and gave up four runs in seven innings in a 5-2 road defeat on June 17. St. Louis will try to hand him another defeat. The Cubs are looking for a finish in the first half with a dozen wins in 18 games. Chicago also has a chance to be victorious in the four-game series over its archrivals after claiming a 6-4 victory on Saturday. Luis Valbuena had a crucial two-run shot in the fourth inning while Alfonso Soriano hit his ninth homer in 15 matches. Matt Holliday (for hamstring) and All-Star catcher Yadier Molina (for right knee) did not play in the starting lineup on Saturday, although Molina was inserted in the eighth inning. 

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