(SportsNetwork.com) - Following an outstanding month of April, Jason Hammel will look to pitch the Chicago Cubs to a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals as the NL Central rivals clash on Sunday night.
Hammel went 4-1 with a 2.08 earned run average in five starts last month, going seven innings in each of his last four outings. He won his second start in a row last Sunday, blanking the Milwaukee Brewers over seven innings.
The right-hander scattered three hits and two walks while striking out a season-high seven batters, and in fact did not allow his first hit until the sixth inning because of some confusion.
"What happened in the sixth inning was I pretty much screwed myself going back and forth from signs. We were bouncing back and forth between innings, changing up signs, and I got caught up in the signs. I basically mixed myself up and kind of lost my rhythm," Hammel said.
Hammel, 31, has gone 1-1 in two previous starts against the Cardinals with a 5.79 ERA.
The Cubs are looking to sweep the Cardinals for the first time since Sept. 13-15, 2010, and after plating six runs in Friday's opener they won the middle contest of the set 3-0 on Saturday.
Junior Lake hit a two-run homer and Anthony Rizzo added a solo shot for the Cubs, who assured themselves their first series victory since taking two of three over the Cincinnati Reds from Sept. 9-11 of last year.
The Cubs also have won three in a row for the first time since July 26-28 and have not won four straight since July 6-9.
"Junior with that home run was huge for us," said Rizzo of Lake's sixth-inning shot. "That was it. That was the deciding factor."
Matt Adams had three hits and Jhonny Peralta supplied two hits for the Cardinals, who have dropped four of five and nine of their last 13 games to fall under .500 at 15-16.
The Cardinals will try to salvage tonight's finale behind right-hander Lance Lynn, who has gone winless in back-to-back outings since a 4-0 start.
Lynn took a loss at the New York Mets on April 24, then did not factor into a 5-4 setback versus Milwaukee on Tuesday. He allowed three runs on five hits and two walks over five innings to match his shortest outing of the season.
The 26-year-old is pitching to a 3.60 ERA on the season and is 6-3 in his career versus the Cubs with a 3.20 ERA in 10 games (9 starts).