It's a season of "lasts" at Busch Stadium this year, and one of the biggest ones takes place on Wednesday night. That's when the Cubs play their last game at the current ballpark, which will be replaced by a new facility (with the same name) in 2006.
Mark Mulder will toe the rubber for the home team. If not for Chris Carpenter's otherworldly brilliance, Mulder's recent hot streak would probably be drawing more attention. The left-hander has allowed two earned runs and 10 hits in 25 innings over his last three starts. He's permitted two or fewer runs in nine of his last 10 outings, dropping his ERA from 4.63 to 3.62 in that time.
However, his opponent will be the same man who pitched for the other team in Mulder's only defeat since late June. Greg Maddux is a fitting choice to start the Cubs' final game at the current ballpark, given the success he's had in St. Louis. For his career, Maddux is 12-8 with a 3.09 ERA at Busch. The only ballparks where he's won more games are: Wrigley Field, Turner Field, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, all of which he called home at some point, and Shea Stadium.
The Cubs have been a difficult opponent for St. Louis this season. Chicago is the only NL Central team, and one of only three in all of baseball, against which the Cards have a losing record this year.
RHP Greg Maddux
11-11, 4.41 ERA in 2005
1-0, 4.00 ERA vs. STL in 2005
LHP Mark Mulder
15-6, 3.62 ERA in 2005
0-1, 15.75 ERA vs. CHC in 2005
Player to watch
Abraham Nunez has been an absolute pest to Maddux. The Cardinals infielder is 9-for-19 (.474) with three doubles in his career against the future Hall of Famer.
"If they play three times, they would still rather be here than play no times. " -- Manager Tony La Russa, on September callups
On the Internet
Official game notes
CHC: CSN Chicago
STL: FSN Midwest
CHC: WGN 720
STL: KMOX 1120
Of the nine batting title qualifiers in the National League who have more walks than strikeouts, two are Cardinals: Albert Pujols and David Eckstein. ... In night games at Busch Stadium, Mulder is 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA. ... Left-handed batters are hitting .161 against Mulder since the All-Star break. ... Mulder is 3-for-9 at the plate over his last three games. ... Only eight active players have more at-bats against Maddux than Larry Walker's 73.
Thursday: vs. New York Mets, 7:10 p.m. CT
Friday: vs. New York Mets, 7:10 p.m. CT
Saturday: vs. New York Mets, 6:15 p.m. CT
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.