Perhaps the comforts of home will help cure what's ailing the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs (25-27) are two games under .500 for the first time in manager Joe Maddon's tenure as they open a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday, part of a 10-game homestand.
Chicago returns following a West Coast road trip in which a 3-3 split might have been a reasonable outcome. Instead, the Cubs dropped all six -- three to the National League West co-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and three to the last-place San Diego Padres.
The Cubs are struggling at the plate with a team .235 average with starters such as Kyle Schwarber (.165), Addison Russell (.216) and Anthony Rizzo (.227) all lagging. Chicago is also having troubles with runners in scoring position, batting just .211.
Yet Chicago remains in third place in the NL Central, just three games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Moreover, the Cubs are 14-11 at Wrigley Field, including a 7-2 mark in their last homestand.
Chicago sends right-hander John Lackey (4-5, 5.18 ERA) against Cardinals righty Lance Lynn (4-3, 2.93 ERA) on Friday.
The Cardinals (26-25) are second in the NL Central, 1 1/2 behind the Brewers after two straight wins over the Dodgers. On Thursday, they scored a 2-0 victory at Busch Stadium as Jedd Gyorko had his team-leading sixth three-hit game.
Lynn is set for his first start against Chicago this year. He currently ranks fourth among NL pitchers in opponents' average (.199), fifth in ERA (2.36) and sixth in WHIP (1.06). His .139 average against right-handers is tops in baseball.