|1:05 PM PT2:05 PM MT3:05 PM CT4:05 PM ET16:05 ET20:05 GMT4:05 1:05 PM MST3:05 PM EST3:35 PM VEN0:05 UAE (+1)3:05 PM CT, July 25, 2014
Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois Attendance: 41,534
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By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
(AP) -- The St. Louis Cardinals are on the brink of their longest losing streak in almost a year.
Historically, turning to Joe Kelly against the Chicago Cubs would improve their chances of avoiding such a fate.
Kelly looks to use his adjusted delivery to continue his success against the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field on Friday.
The Cardinals (54-47) have been outscored 14-5 during a three-game slide after falling 3-0 to Tampa Bay on Wednesday. The streak has dropped them out of a tie for first in the NL Central with Milwaukee, and into second with Pittsburgh - three games behind the Brewers.
St. Louis, the reigning Central champion, hasn't lost four in a row since Aug. 7-10.
Giving the ball to Kelly (2-1, 2.84 ERA) may be a good way to avoid matching that skid since he's 3-0 with a 1.61 ERA over his last five games - four starts - against the Cubs (41-59). That includes winning both starts on the North Side by yielding one run and seven hits in 11 1-3 innings.
Kelly pitched well enough to beat Chicago at home April 11, allowing an unearned run in six innings of a 6-3 loss in 11.
The right-hander enters this visit to Wrigley after perhaps his best performance of the season, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of Saturday's 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was a tremendous improvement from his first start after missing nearly three months with a left hamstring strain, having been ripped for six runs in three innings of a 7-6 loss at Milwaukee eight days earlier.
Kelly thought he was tipping his pitches against the Brewers, so he tweaked his delivery Saturday.
"It's a good start," Kelly told MLB's official website. "I'm going to keep doing (the different motion) and do it as much as I can to just try and mix up pitches and hide stuff better."
While Kelly is trying to build on his new motion, Travis Wood (7-9, 5.12) is in search of a solution to his 0-4 record and 6.82 ERA over his last six starts.
The left-hander has walked 21 batters in 31 2-3 innings over that stretch. His 52 walks on the season are among the most in baseball and 14 shy of his career high set last year when he made the NL All-Star team.
Wood issued four free passes while allowing seven runs in 5 1-3 innings of Saturday's 9-3 loss at Arizona.
"He's getting in hitters' counts and doesn't have the command he had last year," pitching coach Chris Bosio said. "It can become very frustrating, emotionally frustrating. I think that's the position he's at right now.
"He's trying to do everything. Sometimes you have to simplify it and just say, 'You know what, I'm going to get back to bread and butter and try to pound the zone. If they're going to swing at it, let them swing it.'"
Wood is 3-4 with a 5.93 ERA in 10 starts against the Cardinals since joining Chicago two years ago. He's won both of his outings against them this year despite giving up eight runs - six earned - in 13 innings.
Jon Jay is 10 for 25 lifetime off Wood but 0 for 3 this year.
Updated July 25, 2014