The Cubs can clinch a winning month of August by winning the second game of their doubleheader with the Cardinals on Saturday after taking Game 1, 5-1.
Of course, that won't come easily, especially this late in the season against a team with as much to play for as the Cardinals.
But the new-look Cubs, with recent callups Javier Baez and Jorge Soler leading the way, are playing spoiler the rest of the season, as the young core of what Chicago hopes will be a contender in the near future continues to learn at the big league level.
The Cardinals continue to fight for a division crown in the National League Central, dropping to two games behind the Brewers following the loss to Chicago in the opener of Saturday's twin bill. St. Louis is also clinging to the second NL Wild Card spot, a half-game ahead of the Braves in that race.
With every game crucial as August nears an end, the Cardinals will send 22-year-old left-hander Marco Gonzales to the mound in the twin-bill nightcap. Gonzales, St. Louis' first-round pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft and the team's No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com, will be making his fourth career start and looking for his first Major League win.
The southpaw made his big league debut on June 25 and made two more starts for the Cardinals before being optioned to Triple-A Memphis. In his three Major League starts, Gonzales allowed 11 earned runs in 14 innings (7.07 ERA). But in eight starts for Memphis since then, he has gone 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA.
"[Gonzales has] had a nice run down in Memphis, and looking at our options without having to reshape our bullpen or shuffle it, being able to insert him for that one game made a lot of sense," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said.
"He did a nice job while he was here," manager Mike Matheny said. "There were things we wanted to see him work on, and hopefully he's improved to make himself a little more well-rounded."
The Cubs will counter with another rookie left-hander, Tsuyoshi Wada. Outside of a rough start in his second Major League appearance on July 23, Wada has been sensational. His finest performance of the season came in his last start, when he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Orioles on Sunday, broken up by a Steve Pearce homer, the only hit Wada gave up in 6 1/3 frames. He walked one and struck out a career-high eight to earn the win.
"[What made him tough was the] same reason we had interest in him when he was healthy -- good fastball command [to] all four quadrants," said Baltimore manager Buck Showalter of Wada, who was in the Orioles' organization before being acquired by the Cubs.
"Late life, like a lot of pitchers who come out of there have. You kind of throw away the radar gun. He's got a little late hop. Enough changeup. Spun a few balls, but basically fastball-changeup."
Cubs: Rizzo resting during Cardinals series
First baseman Anthony Rizzo hasn't played since being taken out of Chicago's game against the Reds last Tuesday due to lower back tightness.
The Cubs have decided to rest Rizzo, who has posted a .278/.375/.514 line with 30 home runs and 71 RBIs this season, for the Cardinals series.
"I hit, I ran. Hitting felt all right," Rizzo said Saturday. "I took two rounds, let it calm down, hit again. Then I ran for the ultimate [test]. Jogging [is a problem].
"It felt a lot better today than yesterday, so I think if we let it rest, it'll be OK. I don't want to come back and then miss the rest of the season if I'm really bad. I can wait a couple days to play the rest of the season."
Cardinals: Club prepared in case long relief is necessary
St. Louis stocked its bullpen nicely for the doubleheader.
The club kept an extra reliever on the roster to give itself some more leeway in terms of how the bullpen will be handled. There are currently three pitchers on the roster suited to long-relief work -- Tyler Lyons, Nick Greenwood and Carlos Martinez.
Lyons pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Justin Masterson in the first game of the twin bill, allowing just one hit and striking out eight.
• The Cubs' 5-1 victory in Game 1 of the doubleheader was their first win in four twin bills this season. They were swept by the Yankees on April 17 at Yankee Stadium, the Nationals on June 28 at Wrigley Field, and the Reds on July 8 at Great American Ball Park.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.