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STL@CIN: Lynn strikes out 11 over eight strong frames

After facing one of the National League's hottest teams in the Dodgers, the Cardinals host a team on the opposite side of the spectrum on Friday, when the Redbirds and Cubs begin a three-game series at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis is four games behind first-place Pittsburgh and has played under-.500 baseball (4-5) this month.

The Cubs head to St. Louis having lost nine of their last 11.

It won't get any easier for the Cubs in the series opener, as they face right-hander Lance Lynn, who has dominated them in St. Louis. Lynn is 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in four career games (three starts) against the Cubs at Busch Stadium, but he has struggled overall against the Cubs this season, posting a 4.67 ERA in three outings.

Lynn is coming off one of his best starts of the season, striking out 11 Reds in eight innings, both season highs.

"I had pretty good command of all four pitches today," Lynn said after that outing. "When you have that, it makes it a lot easier to pitch. I was able to use most of them to both sides of the plate."

The Cubs recently played the Dodgers, being swept by them at Wrigley Field before heading to Philadelphia. Left-hander Chris Rusin, who opposes Lynn on Friday, pitched well for five innings before being knocked out in the sixth.

That start aside, the 26-year-old Rusin has pitched well this season for the Cubs, going 1-1 with a 3.98 ERA in four starts. Those are much better numbers than the ones he put up in seven starts last year (2-3, 6.37 ERA), and he has said that he feels much better in his second go-around in the Majors.

"I am more confident in my stuff," Rusin said. "You don't know until you get here if your stuff works or not. But after last year and a little bit this year, I know my stuff works if I throw it where I need to throw it, keep hitters off balance when I need to, and just cut down on the mistakes."

Cubs: Navarro avoids major injury
Catcher Dioner Navarro is day to day with a sore ankle after a collision with Phillies second baseman Chase Utley on Wednesday.

"We'll see what happens in a couple of days. I don't know, it's just a contusion, whatever. There's some inflammation," Navarro said. "I thought it was going to be worse than it was. I tape my ankles before every game, so I guess the tape worked."

X-rays on the ankle came back negative.

• Cubs third basemen have combined to hit 19 home runs this season after hitting only 12 in 2012.

Cardinals: Miller expected to be back on mound next week
Despite taking a line drive off his elbow in Wednesday night's game against the Dodgers, rookie right-hander Shelby Miller hopes to be back on the mound next week.

Miller tested his pitching arm before Thursday's game against the Dodgers by playing catch.

"[It's] just a little sore, but nothing bad," Miller said. "I figured it would be a little worse than it was based on how that ball hit me. It feels really good. It feels loose. We're doing a little more treatment. I'm trying to see if I can pitch as soon as possible."

Miller's next scheduled start was to be on Tuesday, though adjustments to the rotation now have Adam Wainwright in line to pitch that day. Miller would likely start at some point after that.

Worth noting
• The Cardinals lead the season series, 6-4.

• The Cubs have recorded at least one extra-base hit in 31 straight games. Comments