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CIN@STL: Garcia goes seven strong for the win

The Cardinals have won every series they have played this season. The Cubs have done the opposite.

Both of those streaks will be put to the test when the teams start a three-game set on Monday night at Wrigley Field. Jaime Garcia will oppose Matt Garza as the National League Central rivals meet for the second time this month and the first time in Chicago.

The Cardinals, who lead the division at 11-5, took two of three from the Cubs in St. Louis from April 13-15. By doing the same against the Pirates over the weekend in Pittsburgh, the Cards captured their sixth straight series to begin the year, including the single season-opening game against the Marlins.

On Monday, they will hand the ball to Garcia, who is coming off the best of his three 2012 starts, in terms of command and pitch movement. Against the Reds on Wednesday, Garcia (2-0, 3.06 ERA) threw 89 pitches in seven innings and induced four double plays to help him limit Cincinnati to one run.

"I think the double plays are a good sign," Garcia said. "Basically, every time I get somebody on base, that's what I want to do. I want to be able to pitch down in the strike zone. I trust my stuff. I trust my sinker."

The Cubs have dropped series to the Nationals, Brewers, Marlins and Reds, in addition to the Cardinals. They sit at 4-12, last in the division.

"We just need to worry about trying to win some series," pitcher Ryan Dempster said. "The season hasn't gotten off the way we wanted it to get off, but that can change really fast.

"The best thing you can do is do your job the best you can. If everything goes well, you're in a position where everybody starts doing that collectively as a group and you get better as a team."

The Cubs will turn to Garza (1-1, 3.66 ERA), who has a 1.23 ERA in two home starts but was rocked for six earned runs in five innings on Wednesday in Miami. Hanley Ramirez and Donnie Murphy both took advantage of mistake pitches by smacking home runs.

"Keep those two balls in the yard, and maybe I'm looking at a three-run game instead of six," Garza said. "They did what they had to do with those pitches."

Cardinals: Bench back to full strength?
• St. Louis played with a short bench Saturday and Sunday against Pittsburgh as a result of injuries to Skip Schumaker and Jon Jay, but both of those situations could be resolved by Monday.

Schumaker returned from the disabled list on Friday, but he promptly left his first appearance of the season after running into the outfield wall in pursuit of a fly ball. He is improving and could be ready to go for Monday after singling as a pinch-hitter on Sunday.

Jay traveled back to St. Louis on Sunday for further tests on his right shoulder, which he sprained in his own run-in with an outfield wall on Thursday. Depending on the results of those tests, the Cardinals might have to place Jay on the DL and call up a player from the Minor Leagues.

Shane Robinson has started both of the last two games in center field, and St. Louis could use him, Erik Komatsu and Schumaker at the position if Jay misses more time.

• Garcia's career road ERA stands at 4.28, compared with 2.33 at home, but he has a 2.51 mark in three games (two starts) at Wrigley. In 2011, Garcia went 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA in three outings against the Cubs.

Cubs: Bullpen adds a new member
• The Cubs traded veteran outfielder Marlon Byrd to the Red Sox on Saturday for relief pitcher Michael Bowden and a player to be named later.

Bowden, a 25-year-old righty, started the season with Boston and gave up one earned run in three innings but was designated for assignment on April 15. He is expected to join the Cubs in Chicago on Monday.

Bowden sports a career 5.61 ERA in 59 1/3 innings, but he posted a 4.05 mark in 20 innings last season. He is a 2005 graduate of Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora, Ill.

"Michael's a guy we've known since 2005," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "He has tremendous makeup, a very hard worker. He's also a local kid and is excited about being with the Cubs. The relationship helps when you know a guy's makeup and how hard he works. That's nice when you make a trade."

• Byrd's departure doesn't mean that Brett Jackson, one of the Cubs' top prospects, is coming up from Triple-A Iowa to play center field.

Joe Mather started there Saturday, while Tony Campana -- called up when Dempster went on the DL -- got the nod Sunday. Reed Johnson also can play the position.

Worth noting
• The Cardinals and Cubs met only six times at Wrigley Field in 2011 and split those games. This is the first of nine meetings there in 2012, with two more three-game sets to follow: July 27-29 and Sept. 21-23.

• First-year Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran has enjoyed Wrigley over the years, compiling his highest OPS (1.230) at any stadium where he has played more than three games. In 27 contests, Beltran has slugged nine home runs, although seven came in seven games in 2004 after he was traded from the Royals to the Astros in late June. Comments