After all, with their series-opening win Friday against the Cubs, the Redbirds have now won seven of their last eight games and find themselves in the thick of the NL playoff race. It doesn't hurt that St. Louis overcame a much larger deficit in a much smaller time period last September en route to a World Series title -- and that was without this year's added luxury of two Wild Cards qualifying for the postseason.
"I'm taking it more like we control our own destiny by the way we play," Matheny said. "[We] just need to keep playing good baseball. It's still really early, for me, to start watching too much when it comes to the Wild Card."
The Cardinals, who swept the Cubs last weekend in St. Louis, will look to extend their winning streak to five games overall Saturday when they send rookie Joe Kelly to the mound. Kelly has been solid while filling in for Jaime Garcia, yet he carries a 1-3 record into his first career start at Wrigley Field.
Though the right-hander hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts, he also hasn't pitched more than six innings. He sports a 2.78 ERA and has turned in six straight quality starts, but he will be looking to give his team something more on Saturday.
"I don't go in there and say, 'All right, just a quality start,'" Kelly said. "I want to go out there and get past the sixth inning. It's really irritating and frustrating, because I know I can. Like I said, it's going to come. I'm just right there."
The Cubs, meanwhile, will turn to Jeff Samardzija as they look to snap their five-game skid against the rival Cardinals. Samardzija has seemingly gotten past a rough month of June -- in which he went 0-4 with a 10.41 ERA -- and has been lights out so far in July.
The righty enters Saturday's contest 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA this month, and he's coming off the best outing of his young career. Samardzija conceded just one hit -- an infield single -- over eight shutout innings on Monday against the Pirates.
"That was, no doubt, the best stuff he's had," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said after Samardzija's gem. "He had his two-seamer working, kept the ball down, elevated when he wanted, had his split working, his slider [and] could get back in the count with his slider."
Cardinals: Freese, Beltran hope to return Saturday
Third baseman David Freese (sore right calf) and outfielder Carlos Beltran (rest) each sat out of Friday's victory, but both expect to return to the lineup Saturday.
Freese first felt tightness in his right calf during an at-bat of Thursday night's win over the Dodgers, which he was removed from during the sixth inning. He described himself as "sore, but available [to pinch-hit] on Friday."
As for Beltran, he's missed two straight games, though Matheny said that's not the result of any specific injury. Beltran is 10-for-45 (.222) since the All-Star break, having played in 10 of the Cardinals' 14 second-half games.
"It's not as much his swing as it is his body," Matheny explained. "When his body feels good, everything else seems to fall into place. I don't think anyone has any question about how valuable he is to us. So to sacrifice one to get him back to where he's been for a good part of the season is a good trade."
Cubs: Garza shut down until after Trade Deadline
It turns out Matt Garza won't pitch again for the Cubs ahead of Tuesday's Trade Deadline -- but that's simply as a result of cramping in his right elbow.
Though Garza, who came out of last Saturday's start early with soreness in his elbow, has been mentioned in trade rumors for weeks, the injury's impact on any potential trade wasn't what concerned Sveum.
"I don't expect anybody to be gone until it happens, anyways," Sveum said. "I'm not dwelling on that. We have to get him back on the mound."
As for when that will be?
"We'll just wait and see what happens with his throwing program," Sveum said, "and [he could start], possibly, maybe late next week."
Since 2001, the Cubs are 59-42 against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, but just 40-67 away from the Friendly Confines for a 99-109 overall head-to-head record.
Alfonso Soriano needs just one home run to join Andre Dawson as the only Cubs with 20-plus homers in their first six seasons with the team.