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Cubs vs. Cardinals Preview, Monday 9/13, 7:15 CT: Look! A Pennant Race!

This is the first time since 2005 that the Cubs will play the Cardinals in September while St. Louis is in playoff contention and the Cubs aren't. In 2006, when the Cardinals won the NL Central and the Cubs were awful, the Cubs and Cardinals didn't meet in September.

In 2005, the Cubs and Cardinals met seven times in September; the Cubs won two of three in St. Louis and split a four-game series at Wrigley Field. It ultimately didn't matter, because the Cardinals had the best record in the league that year and won the division by 11 games, only to be defeated in the NLCS by the Astros.

But in that 2005 series at Wrigley Field, there was a memorable game on Thursday, September 15, a night game where the Cardinals anticipated clinching a tie for the division title (which, essentially, was an outright clinching because had the Astros tied them, St. Louis would have been the division winner). The Cubs trailed 6-0 going into the bottom of the ninth. Derrek Lee led off the inning with a home run, and then it started to rain. The rain got harder as an out, a single and another out were registered; then Neifi Perez walked. It was pouring when Henry Blanco hit a foul popup that should have been the last out, but Yadier Molina dropped it for an error, after which Blanco hit an infield single, loading the bases.

With Jose Macias due up and the rain now coming down in sheets, the umpires halted play. An hour later the game was called and the Cardinals had to celebrate in their clubhouse, instead of on the field.

This time, it's St. Louis trailing -- by six games after winning last night in Atlanta -- and they don't play the Reds any more. So the Cubs may have a lot to say about whether the Cardinals make the playoffs this year or not. I'd like nothing better than to knock them out.

Tonight's lineup via tweet from Carrie:

#cubs lineup mon nite 2b baker, ss castro, cf byrd, 3b ramy, 1b nady, c soto, lf sori, rf colvin, p samardzija
Today's Starting Pitchers
Jeff Samardzija
Jeff Samardzija
vs. Jaime Garcia
Jaime Garcia
0-1 W-L 13-7
18.90 ERA 2.69
2 SO 128
6 BB 63
1 HR 9
vs. StL -- vs. Cubs

2010 - Jeff Samardzija 0-1 4 0 0 0 0 0 3.1 5 11 7 1 6 2 18.90 3.30

2010 - Jaime Garcia 13-7 30 27 1 1 0 0 157.1 144 60 47 9 63 128 2.69 1.32

Jaime Garcia is a Rookie of the Year candidate and has solidified the Cardinals rotation. His only career appearance to date vs. the Cubs is one scoreless relief inning on August 10, 2008; the only current Cubs he has faced are Xavier Nady and Aramis Ramirez, both 0-for-1.

Jeff Samardzija made four relief appearances for the Cubs earlier this year. One of them was good, the other three awful. He spent the rest of the year starting for Iowa and did a decent -- not great -- job. The last time he started in a major league game was last September 23 at Milwaukee. He pitched decently, but gave up HR to Jody Gerut and Prince Fielder and lost. He also hit a home run in that game. I'll settle for good pitching tonight. No current Cardinal has more than four career AB against the Shark -- that's Albert Pujols, who is 2-for-4 with a double.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago and FSN Midwest. Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva el Birdos.

Today's first pitch thread will be up at 7:15 pm CDT, and the overflows will post at 8:15 pm, 9:15 pm and 10 pm CDT (yes, those are the correct times).

Discuss amongst yourselves.