The Chicago Cubs picked up right where they left off before the All-Star break, and they'll try to keep the hot streak going Friday when they host the St. Louis Cardinals for the second of a five-game series. The Cubs used a five-run fifth inning to rally for their major league-leading 31st comeback victory Thursday while posting their fourth consecutive victory.

The Cubs have won 13 of their last 16 games to build a three-game lead over Milwaukee in the National League Central. The Cardinals have lost four of their last five to fall 8 1/2 games behind Chicago. The Cubs were able to hang on in the opener despite a weakened bullpen, as closer Brandon Morrow was placed on the disabled list prior to the game with right biceps inflammation. Chicago bolstered the pen by acquiring right-hander Jesse Chavez from Texas on Thursday in exchange for minor-league left-hander Tyler Thomas.

TV: 2:20 p.m. ET, MLB Network, FS Midwest (St. Louis), NBCS Chicago

PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Jack Flaherty (3-4, 3.24 ERA) vs. Cubs LH Jon Lester (12-2, 2.58)

Flaherty is winless in his last six starts despite a solid 3.68 ERA over that stretch. The 22-year-old allowed two hits over five scoreless innings in his last start, and he likely would have gone deeper if not for a rain delay. Flaherty faced the Cubs on June 17 and struck out seven while allowing two hits over five scoreless frames.

Lester hasn't lost since May 23, going 8-0 with a 2.80 ERA in nine starts over that stretch. The 34-year-old wasn't quite as dominant in his last three starts before the All-Star break, allowing 11 runs (nine earned) in 16 2/3 innings. Lester is 7-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 17 starts against the Cardinals, including two wins this season.


1. Cubs RF Jason Heyward recorded his eighth three-hit game of the season Thursday after collecting three or more hits only four times last season.

2. Cardinals C Yadier Molina, who was 4-for-5 Thursday, is 13-for-38 with a homer versus Lester.

3. Chicago 1B Anthony Rizzo is 8-for-16 with five doubles in his past four games.

PREDICTION: Cubs 4, Cardinals 2