Cubs manager Dale Sveum has a few explanations for the Cardinals' success this season. The most important? Throwing strikes and limiting walks, which Jake Westbrook will look to do Wednesday against Chicago.
"It's something you preach and something you try to get to in the organization -- throw strikes, you'll win a lot of games," Sveum said. "And if you hit .340 with men in scoring position, you'll win a lot of games and be 20 over."
Westbrook is making his second start since coming off the disabled list, and eighth start this season for St. Louis. In his first start back from injury, he allowed five runs (three earned) on eight hits over five innings in a 5-4 loss to the Marlins on Friday. He'll take on Edwin Jackson on Wednesday.
"I made good pitches and got a lot of ground balls," Westbrook said. "A lot of them found holes, but if I keep them hitting balls on the ground and making guys mishit balls, I'll be better off more time than not. I just need to let my defense work behind me."
Westbrook will make his 10th career start against the Cubs. He had a no-decision earlier this year in a 5-4 win against Chicago, his last game before he went on the DL with right elbow inflammation. He pitched 5 1/3 innings with nine hits, four runs (three earned), one walk and a strikeout.
Jackson is 3-8 with a 5.40 ERA this season, but he has won his last two starts. He allowed four hits and one run with eight strikeouts in seven innings on June 9 against the Pirates, then he surrendered just one run with seven strikeouts over six in a June 14 win against the Mets.
Cardinals: Mujica continues to roll
Edward Mujica has 20 saves this season, the fifth most in baseball. He hasn't blown one, either, and trails only Jason Grilli of the Pirates in saves without a blemish.
Mujica spent the last seven seasons with five different teams in different roles. Now, he's the closer on the club with baseball's best record. He had a four-out save against the Cubs on Monday, and has allowed just one walk this season.
"Mujica fills in and does a great job in relief. They have so many tangibles," Sveum said about the Cardinals bullpen. "They don't walk people -- they have good pitching and they don't walk anybody."
Cubs: Rizzo gets rare day off
It took the Cubs about 40 percent of the season to finally give their first baseman a day off, but game No. 69 was the magic one for Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo didn't start Tuesday for the first time all season. He hasn't hit a home run since May 18, and was 0-for-10 in his last three games before Sveum decided to give him a rest.
"Last year, I had a couple days off, and came back like I normally am," Rizzo said before the game. "You're going to have good times and bad times, and it's one of the down times for myself personally. It's frustrating. The game is beating me up a little bit. I think it'll be nice to relax and enjoy the game from the bird's eye."
• Jackson is 1-3 with a 4.58 ERA in six career starts against the Cardinals.
• The Cubs have a plus-31 run differential in the first five innings of games this season, and minus-44 from the sixth on.
• Mujica's consecutive save streak is the most to start a season for the Cardinals since Tom Henke converted 22 straight to start the 1995 campaign.
Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.