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Cubs at Cardinals Preview
Kevin Chroust, STATS Writer
(AP) -- Since joining the NL in 1892, St. Louis has reached 50 wins in 74 games or fewer once. It happened in 71 contests, but the 2015 Cardinals should be forgiven for slightly trailing that mark.

They don't have a Stan Musial batting .369 as part of the hot start and a fellow infielder beating him out for MVP. In fact, three of the top players on the present roster remain on the disabled list.

Even so, when they continue this series against the Chicago Cubs on Saturday night at Busch Stadium, they'll try to come closer than any club since Musial and curious MVP Marty Marion paced one of the best Cardinals teams ever in 1944.

After Friday's 3-2 win over Chicago (39-33) in 10 innings, the Cardinals (49-24) are also 25 games over .500 this early in the season for the first time since the 1944 team did so in 64. The 73 it took this season's club is 10 games faster than any other since. The 1987 Cardinals did it in 83, and both the '44 and '87 teams won the World Series.

St. Louis is seeking its fifth winning streak of at least five games and its second eight-gamer at home, where it's gone an MLB-best 27-7. The Cardinals have won five of seven in the season series with Kolten Wong going 9 for 17 in the last five.

Chicago's Starlin Castro has an 11-game hitting streak in the series, but the Cubs are in danger of matching their season-worst four-game losing streak in large part because they've managed four runs in three games.

Should the Cardinals get to 50, they may do it with Michael Wacha accounting for 20 percent of those.

Wacha (9-3, 2.85 ERA) has been on and off lately, trading wins and losses in his last six starts. The off reached a new level in Sunday's 9-2 loss in Philadelphia as the right-hander gave up a season-high five runs and eight hits in five innings. Over his last three starts, he's 1-2 with a 5.50 ERA.

"I guess you could think of (the good starts), but right now it stinks pretty good and you definitely don't want to experience this feeling too many times," Wacha told MLB's official website.

If he gets the 10th win, he'll double his total from last season in four fewer starts.

The 23-year-old is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts and a relief effort against the Cubs while never allowing more than three runs. Castro (5 for 11) and Anthony Rizzo (4 for 11) have both homered off him.

Wacha is up against a pitcher who hasn't stood on a major league mound this season. Donn Roach is making his Chicago debut as Tsuyoshi Wada misses a start due to shoulder cramping.

Roach went 1-0 with a 4.75 ERA in a start and 15 relief appearances last season as a rookie with San Diego. The start didn't go well as the right-hander gave up four runs and four hits in three innings of an 8-6 loss in Colorado on May 18.

"There's less of the butterfly effect - I still have some, it's still the big leagues - but this isn't my first big league start or big league appearance," Roach said.

The Cubs acquired the 25-year-old off waivers in November, and he's gone 7-1 with a 2.29 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 14 starts with Triple-A Iowa. That's a significant improvement from his 5.24 and 1.78 marks in 19 games with San Diego's Triple-A El Paso club in 2014, so Chicago's hoping he's turned a corner.

"I had to go backwards to go forwards," Roach said.

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