For many years Joey Votto Jersey , the C St. Louis Cardinals in the standings.Times have changed.Chicago (94-66) has a chance to secure its fourth consecutive National League Central title against the Cardinals during the final weekend of the regular season at Wrigley Field. The Cubs’ magic number is two to clinch the division over the second-place Milwaukee Brewers, who are hosting the Detroit Tigers this weekend.Article continues below ...“Our destiny is in our hands,” Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant told the Chicago Tribune. “If we (pick each other up), we’re going to be in a good spot.”Meanwhile, St. Louis (87-73) is in a much more difficult spot with two games to go.The Cardinals emerged as a legitimate playoff contender after replacing ex-manager Mike Matheny with Mike Shildt, who has led the team to a 40-27 record since taking over just before the All-Star break. But a late-season stumble has pushed St. Louis to the outside looking in when it comes to the wild card.“Clearly, the back is completely against the wall,” Shildt said to reporters after an 8-4 loss in Friday’s series opener.The Cardinals’ task will not get any easier as they go up against Cubs left-hander Cole Hamels on Saturday afternoon.The 34-year-old Hamels is 4-2 with a 2.47 ERA with Chicago and 9-11 with a 3.87 ERA including his time with the Texas Rangers earlier this season. Hamels has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of 11 starts with the Cubs.In 13 career starts against the Cardinals, Hamels is 4-4 with a 2.79 ERA. He has struck out 87 batters in 84 innings.St. Louis will send out right-hander Miles Mikolas (17-4, 2.94 ERA), who has taken over the role of ace and earned a selection to the All-Star Game this summer. The 30-year-old is 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA in his last three outings.Mikolas is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in five games (three starts) against the Cubs during his career. He is the Cardinals’ first pitcher to win 17 or more games in his first season with the club since the late Darryl Kile won 19 games in 2000.Cubs manager Joe Maddon is trying to lead the team to its fourth straight appearance in the NL Championship Series and its second World Series title in the past three years.“It’s a very alert time of the year,” Maddon said. “You’re always on alert. You don’t really let your guard down, ever. …“It’s always good to be able to hold a lead. But when you get to this time a year against really good teams like St. Louis and whomever else we’re going to play, you have this heightened state of alert about your mind and your observations and trying to piece things together. I’d rather you get more mentally alert as opposed to trying to do more physically.”The Cubs are 50-29 at home. The Cardinals are 44-35 on the road.St. Louis holds a 9-8 edge in the regular-season series. Both teams have scored 89 runs against one another. CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs sacrificed a day off and got some needed confidence in return.Jon Lester returned to form http://www.redsfanproshop.com/authentic-cliff-pennington-jersey , allowing one run in seven innings, and the Cubs’ offense came alive in an 8-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.Coming off three straight losses at St. Louis in which they scored six total runs, the Cubs broke loose with a five-run sixth inning. Javier Báez began the onslaught with a run-scoring double, one of his three RBIs, as Chicago picked up its second win in its past eight games.Article continues below ...“Especially when you come off a road trip like that, it’s just nice to come home and kind of regroup and show up for work today and get a W,” Lester said.The game was a makeup of a contest scheduled for April 14 that was postponed because of inclement weather. Monday was an open date for both clubs.Lester (4-4) was in control from the outset. The left-hander allowed four singles, walked one and struck out six, giving up his only run on a sacrifice fly by Jonathan Lucroy in the seventh.Lucroy’s drive to the right-center field gap could have done more damage. But right fielder Carlos González, who was promoted from Triple-A Iowa before the game, made a diving catch on the warning track, nearly sliding headfirst into the ivy-covered wall.“A huge, huge play in that game,” Lester said. “I’m glad he’s on our side Reggie Sanders Jersey , I know that. He has been a Cub killer for a long time.”In his previous three starts — all losses — Lester allowed 19 runs (16 earned) in 14 innings, increasing his ERA from 1.16 to 3.59. After Monday’s effort, he’s now at 3.32.“Great game by Jon,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And then Cargo (González) making a really great first impression.”Former Cub Trevor Cahill (2-6) was charged with five runs on six hits and two walks in 4 1/3 innings in relief of opener Cam Bedrosian. Cahill has one win in his last nine appearances.“Yeah, I’ve been concerned for a long time,” Cahill said. “But all I’ve got to do is just keep going, working, battling and try to get outs.”The Cubs did their damage in the sixth against Cahill and two other relievers. After Báez doubled to drive in Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward had a two-run double, Addison Russell had a sacrifice fly and Kyle Schwarber singled to drive in a run. It was Chicago’s biggest inning since May 17, when it scored five times in the eighth during a 14-6 win over Washington.Báez and Willson Contreras homered off Luís Garcia in the seventh.Chicago took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on Báez’s groundout.CARGO ON THE GOGonzález went 1-for-3 with a walk in addition to his big catch.“It was better than I expected, but not about my performance,” González said. “Just being able to wear this uniform and be on the Cubs side is great. … I’m looking forward to more days like this.”The 33-year-old hit .210 with two homers, seven RBIs and 33 strikeouts in 30 games with Cleveland before he was designated for assignment on May 22. He agreed to a minor league contract with the Cubs last week and was 2-for-8 with a home run in two games with Iowa.Outfielder Jim Adducci was designated for assignment. He was hitless in five at-bats this season.EMERGENCY WARDThe Angels recalled utility player Taylor Ward from Triple-A Salt Lake to assist an undermanned infield. He started at third base.LONG http://www.redsfanproshop.com/authentic-cliff-pennington-jersey , STRANGE TRIPThe Angels arrived at the team hotel shortly after midnight following their victory over the Mariners in Seattle on Sunday. They begin an eight-game homestand on Tuesday.“I think everyone got a good night’s sleep,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “With a 3 o’clock start, you don’t have to get up too, too early. It’s just a pain having to travel four hours and then 4½ hours back in a 24-hour period, but it’s better than getting in at 6 in the morning. It’s an inconvenience, but we’ll get over it.”TRAINER’S ROOMAngels: RHP JC Ramírez (right elbow surgery) will join Triple-A Salt Lake on Sunday as part of his rehab assignment. … OF Michael Hermosillo (hernia) was reinstated from the 60-day injury list and optioned to Salt Lake, while RHP John Curtiss was designated for assignment.Cubs: Báez made his second straight start despite a lingering sore right heel. “It’s something that he’s going to have to control himself,” Maddon said. “It’s one of those things that you try to protect as much as you can.”UP NEXTAngels: RHP Griffin Canning (2-1, 3.06 ERA) is scheduled to open a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night. The rookie allowed two runs over 18 innings over his previous three starts.Cubs: RHP Kyle Hendricks (5-4, 3.09) will take a personal four-game win streak into the series opener against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.