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St. Louis Cardinals get hot, need to stay hot

The St. Louis Cardinals showed what they’re capable of Thursday, winning a hard-fought sweep over the Chicago Cubs.

The Redbirds wore down the Wee Bears with a pair of 4-3 wins in the first two games of the series. They they wore down one of the most fearsome pitchers in the National League, Jake Arrieta, before a seven-run outburst in the fifth and sixth innings of the finale.

St. Louis fought back from the edge of relevancy in the National League Central race to get back into single digits in the games back column. A team that was swept in a five-game series at home last week claimed sole ownership of the best road record in major league baseball.

The Cardinals still haven’t found offensive consistency. But they have finally established their starting pitching, which was supposed to be the backbone of this team.

Michael Wacha, the winner Thursday, has averaged 7 1/3 innings over his last three starts. In that 21-plus inning span, he’s allowed 12 hits and five runs. He’s struck out 17 and walked seven.

Over the past two weeks, Adam Wainwright is 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA and 10 hits allowed in his last 13 2/3 innings.

Carlos Martinez is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA over the last four weeks. He’s given up 19 hits over his last 29 1/3 innings pitched.

It was disappointing to see the team’s recent home skid because it seemed that it had finally got its act together. Hopefully, that rough patch was a fluke and the team we saw over the past three games is the one we’ll see for the rest of the year.

The Cardinals looked like the veteran team, playing better in the field, pitching better and performing better on the bases than the young Cubs.

Chicago, a talented but raw team for the most part, has had an easy time of things in 2016, rushing to a big lead early. I’d like see to what happens if the Redbirds can cut into the deficit and get to within five games or so. Would the Cubs panic? Would St. Louis smell the blood in the water and go into a winning frenzy?

One thing is for certain after the Chicago sweep: The Cardinals are a lot better than they’ve played up to this point. At least they should be.

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